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Brandt Snedeker of the United States and Angel Cabrera of Argentina shared the lead at seven-under par 209 after the third round of the Masters on Saturday.
Snedeker opened on four under, two back from leader Jason Day of Australia, and he parred the first 12 holes before advancing with three birdies in four holes to get to seven under.
Cabrera, the 2009 Masters winner, also picked up three shots on the day, making a birdie at the last to finish, like Snedeker, with a three-under 69.
Day, who led the field by one overnight, looked set to join Snedeker and Cabrera in a three-way tie, but he missed short putts at the last two holes to slip back to five under.
That was one back of countryman Adam Scott (69), who was alone in third at six under.
A third Austraian, Marc Leishman, was level with Day at five under after a 72 with Matt Kuchar (69) alone on four under and South African Tim Clark on three under after a 67, the best round of the day.
Level with Clark was Tiger Woods, who was hit with a two-stroke penalty for an improper drop before the round started, but then clawed his back into contention at three under with a round of 70.
History is against him though as he has never won a major when not leading. or sharing the lead, going into the final round.
World number two Rory McIlroy, the winner of the previous major at the PGA Championship in August, shot himself out of the tournament with a 79 that included a triple bogey at the 11th and a double at the 15th to stand at five over.
"It's very disappointing. I feel like I was playing well and feel like I have been playing well coming in here and it's just a frustrating day here," said McIlroy, who has been struggling since the start of the year when he changed his golfing equipment.
The English challenge stuttered as Lee Westwood had a 73 to slip to two under, Justin Rose carded a 75 for level par and Luke Donald managed only a 75 to sink to two over.
Phil Mickelson's hopes were shattered as the three-time former winner slipped out to eight over with a 77, while defending champion Bubba Watson, out first alone, came in with a 70 to get to two over.