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Golf: Cabrera, Snedeker lead Masters as Tiger, storm lurk

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Masters co-leaders Angel Cabrera and Brandt Snedeker prepared for Sunday's back-nine drama at the Masters while top-ranked Tiger Woods and thunderstorms threaten to scuttle their title hopes.

The final round began under overcast skies at Augusta National with Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion from Argentina, and American Snedeker, a winner this year at Pebble Beach with three other top-three efforts, in the final pairing.

Cabrera and Snedeker stood on seven-under par 209 after 54 holes, one stroke ahead of Australian Adam Scott with Aussies Jason Day and Marc Leishman on 211, American Matt Kuchar on 212 and Woods and South African Tim Clark on 213.

Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, will try to win a major for the first time when he has not at least shared the lead after 54 holes.

But in addition to Woods lurking, weather forecasts call for showers to reach the area late in the afternoon with thunderstorms arriving soon after, adding an extra distraction to the already formidable task facing every player.

Woods, seeking his first major title since the 2008 US Open and his first green jacket since taking his fourth in 2005, ignored calls by some to withdraw after a controversy erupted Saturday over an improper drop Friday at the 15th.

Augusta National's competition committee chose to impose only a two-stroke penalty on Woods rather than have him disqualified for a rules violation, an option available only because of a rule change passed in August of 2011.

"Under the rules of golf, I can play," Woods said. "I respect the committee's decision."

Comments after the round indicated Woods did not understand the rule and ignorance of the rules is no excuse, but committee chairman Fred Ridley chose not to disqualify Woods from the event.

"It would have been grossly unfair," he said.

The Australians will be trying for a bit of Masters history as well. No Aussie has ever captured the green jacket, with Greg Norman's history of heartbreak including a lost playoff on a chip-in from Larry Mize and the greatest last-day collapse by a leader in majors history in 1996.

"It's going to be a tense day," Scott said. "We've got another great chance. Three of us right there knocking on the door so there's no better time to never have to deal with that question again than if you go out and play good."

Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese schoolboy who is the youngest player in Masters history, opened his final round with a bogey followed by two pars.

But he has a date along with the eventual champion at the end of the day at the awards ceremony as the low amateur, rewarded with a Silver Cup. Guan was the only amateur to make the cut.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130414/golf-cabrera-snedeker-lead-masters-tiger-storm-lurk