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Down Under dudes hope Augusta National finally kind

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Aussies have had enough of their oh-fer at Augusta National.

Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Jason Day are in the top five heading into today's final round at the Masters, giving the Australians perhaps their best chance at ending their excruciating drought at the club. The Masters remains the only major an Australian has never won.

"It's hard to say exactly what it means. I'd rather not sit here and wonder so much; I'd rather do that if I win" today, said Scott, a stroke behind leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera. "But look, Aussies are proud sporting people, and we'd love to put another notch in our belt, just like any great sporting country.

"This is one thing that one of us would like to do tomorrow, for sure."

It's not as if the Australians haven't had their chances.

Scott and Day were in the hunt two years ago, finishing second to Charl Schwartzel. And who can forget Greg Norman's heartbreaks? Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine in 1986 to take the green jacket from him. The next year, Larry Mize chipped in from 140 feet during a playoff.

And no one will ever forget 1996. The Shark had a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo, only to gag it all away with a final-round 78.

"It's a great opportunity for all of us to be the first," Day said. "There's been some great Aussies in the past that have had an opportunity to win the Masters and fell short a little bit. So if it happens tomorrow, that's great. If it doesn't, then we're going to keep plugging away."

BAD MOVES: Phil Mickelson made a big move at the Masters -- in the wrong direction.

He made back-to-back double bogeys on 11 and 12 Saturday on his way to a 5-over 77. He's now 8 over for the tournament, no threat to add a fourth green jacket to his collection.

"I just played terrible. There's no way around it," Mickelson said. "I'm just not hitting very good golf shots, missing it in bad spots and not really knowing which side I'm going to miss it on. So my play has been beyond terrible, and that's certainly disappointing."

At least Mickelson didn't back up as far as his Ryder Cup buddy, Keegan Bradley. The 2011 PGA champion posted the worst score of the day Saturday, a 10-over 82, and is in last place heading into the final round.

Mickelson took last week off, a rarity for him before the Masters, and he was nervous about being rusty when he took on Augusta National. With good reason, apparently.

Except for a stretch early on the back nine Thursday, he's been struggling. With a 76 on Friday, he's shot back-to-back rounds over par for the first time since 2007.

"I don't know what's going on, but I've been struggling with my ball-striking," Mickelson said. "The putter actually feels good, even though I missed a bunch."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2013 B2

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