AUGUSTA — When it comes to major championships, Argentina's Angel Cabrera is 1 up on Kenny Perry, his 54-hole co-leader in the Masters Tournament. Cabrera beat Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk to win the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
"What I learned is that I can win; I can win big tournaments," Cabrera said of his only U.S. victory. Now, he wants to put that knowledge to good use today and be fitted for a green jacket.
Cabrera birdied two of the last four holes Saturday to shoot a 69 and catch Perry at 205. Perry parred the last five holes to shoot 70. Chad Campbell, the co-leader going into Saturday, double bogeyed the 16th and bogeyed the 18th to drop into third place, two shots off the lead.
Jim Furyk (68) is fourth at 208 and Steve Stricker (68) is fifth at 209. Todd Hamilton, Shingo Katayama and Rory Sabbatini are tied for sixth at 201, one shot ahead of Tim Clark.
Nine players are tied for 10th at 4-under 212, including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who have six green jackets and will be paired together for today's final round. Also at 212 are Anthony Kim, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Hunter Mahan, Sean O'Hair, Stephen Ames and Nick Watney.
Until his 2007 U.S. Open victory, Cabrera was a little-known commodity in the U.S. but a solid performer on the European PGA Tour where he has three victories. Cabrera has played in nine previous Masters and has top-10 finishes in 2001, 2002 and 2006, but the 39-year-old professes little knowledge of Argentina's closest call in Augusta, which occurred 41 years ago.
In the 1968 Masters, Roberto De Vicenzo signed for a par instead of the birdie he made on the 17th hole. Had he signed for the correct score, De Vicenzo would have been involved in a playoff with winner Bob Goalby.
"I am playing for myself and trying to make the most of it," Cabrera said, adding that all major championships are the same, "big tournaments."
"To score well in the third round of a major is a big thing. The wind started blowing at some point and that also made it difficult."
Cabrera said he will try to make the most of his position at the top of the leaderboard. He was patient Saturday, despite bogeying the first hole when he three-putted from 40 feet. He got that stroke back and one more with birdies on the third and eighth holes. But one of the biggest boosts for him was a scrambling par on No. 9.
"I had a very bad drive and a bad second shot and I was able to make par there, a very important moment," he said.
Cabrera birdied the 10th, bogeyed 14 after missing the green, but birdied 15 and 17, both from close range.
Cabrera was lurking in the background for most of the day, with Perry and Campbell sharing the limelight.
Perry, nine years older than Cabrera, birdied the second, fourth and 10th holes to get to 12-under for the tournament, then gave shots back on 11 and 12. Unfazed, Perry birdied 13 and then parred in to retain a share of the lead.
"Today was a good test for me," said Perry, who has 13 PGA Tour wins, no major championships but was one of the stars on the victorious 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team that also included the next three guys on the leaderboard, Campbell, Furyk and Stricker. "I didn't have my stuff today, for whatever reason. I was nervous on my first hole and I hit a horrible drive right out of the gate."
Perry said he battled hard and was proud of the way he hung in without his best stuff.
"It felt like work today," Perry said. "The first two days felt like I was on vacation."
Campbell, who finished third in the 2006 Masters but didn't qualify last year, was most disappointed with a poor club selection on the par-3 16th hole.
"It was really a great shot. It was just the wrong club," said Campbell, who sailed a 6-iron into the back bunker and had no shot at making par. He left his second shot in the bunker, hit out and then two-putted for double bogey.
"It's a mistake you really can't make. That's the only place on the hole you can't hit it. You can make par anywhere else," Campbell said. Campbell was 2-under for the day without a bogey to that point. He birdied the 17th, then hit a poor drive on 18, where he was forced to punch out of the pine needles, and made bogey.
Campbell said his goal is to come out and hit solid shots.
"I felt like I played real well today," he said. "I had a couple of bad holes on the front, but hit a lot of good shots. I missed a lot of opportunities for birdies. Hopefully, I'll be able to convert those tomorrow.
"I'd like to win, but if I don't win I'd love to see (Perry) win. We are great friends and we pull for each other. He wouldn't wish anything bad on me and I wouldn't do it on him, either."