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Masters Day 3: Tiger Stays in Hunt

Last Updated 8:07 p.m. ET

Back in his element after a humiliating sex scandal, Tiger Woods headed into Saturday's round of the Masters golf tournament in the next-to-last group, which means his return to the game from a five-month layoff is going better than anyone could have expected.

Anyone, that is, except Woods.

He came to this historic green patch of east Georgia with only one thing on his mind: A fifth green jacket. If this continues for another 36 holes, he might very well be wearing one.

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England's Lee Westwood will take a one-shot lead into final round of the Masters, facing a last-day pairing with crowd favorite Phil Mickelson.

Westwood shot a four-under 68 on Saturday, but could hear roars for just about everyone but him as the American contenders made their charge.

Mickelson made consecutive eagles, and came within inches of three in a row. Woods battled back from a seven-shot deficit with three straight birdies to stay in the game. Fred Couples chipped in for eagle, keeping his hopes alive.

Westwood kept his head down amid all this madness and wound up with what mattered - the lead.

With his best chance ever to win that elusive major, Westwood made only one bogey and finished with a tough par to take a one-shot lead over Mickelson (67) into the final round of a Masters that keeps getting better.

"I think I'm ready," Westwood said.

Westwood, No. 4 in the world and among the best without a major, was at 12-under 204. He will be in the final group with Mickelson, No. 3 in the world and the sentimental favorite at Augusta given his turbulent year at home with his wife and mother battling breast cancer.

Right in front of them will be Woods, No. 1 in the world and playing as though five months of a humiliating sex scandal never happened. He finished with a 3-foot birdie on the last hole for a 2-under 70, putting him at 8-under 208 along with K.J. Choi, who also had a 70.

"That's what everybody wants to see," Westwood said. "Everybody has missed Tiger on the golf course the last five or six months, and he's up there. Phil is up there. You've got 4, 3 and 1 in the world. It's a good leaderboard."

The third round became so frantic that at one point, in the time it took Westwood to play the 11th hole with a hard-earned par, Mickelson made up four shots on him with an 8-foot eagle putt on the 13th and holing out a wedge on the 14th.

Ricky Barnes holed an eagle from off the green and knocked in a 60-foot birdie putt across the 14th.

"It was probably one of those great days in golf at a major championship," Westwood said. "I wasn't privy to the things you have seen, but I was well aware somebody was making a charge, and I figured it was Phil. That's what major championships are about. They're tough ones to win because great players do great things."

The Masters hasn't seen a leaderboard this strong for the final round since Woods and Mickelson - Nos. 1 and 2 in the world - were in the final group in 2001.

More on Woods:

Tiger's Play Keeps Raising Eyebrows
Return of Tiger: Complete Coverage's Mike Freeman Follows Tiger
Track Tiger's Masters Scorecard

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