The Masters:

DiMarco dogged and undaunted

Woods leads distinguished chasing pack, but their prey proves a hard man to pin down

A runaway Chris DiMarco will have to hold off a resurgent Tiger Woods if he is to win his first major title today. And however commanding the American's four-shot lead might appear, with nine holes of the third round left to play this morning, and with Woods looking back to his brilliant Sunday best, it may take some effort from the unheralded 36-year-old.

A runaway Chris DiMarco will have to hold off a resurgent Tiger Woods if he is to win his first major title today. And however commanding the American's four-shot lead might appear, with nine holes of the third round left to play this morning, and with Woods looking back to his brilliant Sunday best, it may take some effort from the unheralded 36-year-old.

Still, the New Yorker should not be discounted from holding on, even in the face of Woods at his most intimidating, especially after his performance yesterday when the storm clouds blessedly took their leave and "moving day" began. And how the players moved ­ unfortunately for the British contingent in a southerly direction.

In contrast, DiMarco did so, in an up, up and away motion duplicating his first-round 67 as the second round was finished off by yesterday lunchtime to grab a lead which he maintained at four shots as he made yet another 15-footer to go to 13 under after nine when the klaxon finally sounded to suspend play last night.

His presence up there was not entirely unexpected either, despite some cruel dismissive mutterings. Last year, the three-time Tour winner held the lead with Phil Mickelson going into the final round before fading into a tie for sixth, while three years before he led after 18 and 36 holes. A dark horse for the course indeed.

There is a thoroughbred in his slipstream, however, and an imposing, snarling one at that. Suddenly, Woods is the member of the Fab Four at the front of the stage again after building on his second-round of 66, by quite thrillingly going out in 31 last night, to stand at nine under after nine, a remarkable 11 under for the day. The 29-year-old hasn't won for the last 10 majors, but yesterday it looked like big business as usual.

There was also a blast from the not-too distant past from Thomas Bjorn as the Dane confidently strode to eight under, bearing little resemblance to the tormented soul who spoke of "my demons" at last year's Masters. It's been a long way back for the 34-year-old to the player who so nearly won the 2003 Open. But maybe Europe can now dream of filling the major void which stretches back to 1999 and Paul Lawrie's Open.

He will have to get past Woods and DiMarco first, not to mention hold off the challenge of Vijay Singh, at four under, and Mickleson, at three under, who will not yet have given up hope of successfully defending his title. All prayers look lost for Ernie Els, meanwhile, as the South African struggles after scraping inside a cut that took with it not only Jack Nicklaus, for probably, the last time, but also Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood.

There was little danger of Luke Donald heading home after he held the overnight lead at five under, but an ugly second-round 77 left the 27-year-old repairing wounds as he crept back to three under after the 15th.

David Howell, England's other overnight hero, had appeared to have stuck in there as he completed his second round at three under, but his "reward" was a Saturday primetime pairing with Woods. Walking with a Tiger can be disconcerting at any time. But in this mood? Howell was wise to tiptoe down the first, but still took double-bogey. The 29-year-old managed to claw it back to two under and a dream finish was still in the offing.

It was a joyous ending to a day that began with the packed galleries whispering about an incident that rocked the gentleman's game to its ancient foundations the previous night.

Indeed, Don King might very well have coined it "The Shocker By The Locker", although Augusta did not really need the grandfather of hype to blow up a showdown that already had caused enough of a frenzy. Mickelson squaring up to Singh would have been a big story wherever it happened. But in the hallowed confines of Augusta's Champions Locker room? Imagine, Gauguin and Van Gogh slugging it out in the Louvre and you would just about approximate the racket being made amongst the green jackets yesterday.

Fortunately it never quite descended to blows, although it was a close thing as the southpaw confronted the Fijian over allegations that Mickelson's spikes were so long they were leaving indentations all over the greens. After Singh told a referee he thought Mickelson was to blame for the marks on the 12th green, the order was issued to approach the defending champion on the next fairway.

"On the 13th hole two officials, sent by Vijay, checked my spikes because he felt they were unduly damaging the greens," Mickelson said in a statement. "If that's the case, I am very apologetic and will make every effort to tap down what spike marks I may make in the future. However, I was extremely distracted and would have appreciated it if it would have been handled differently or after the round."

Mickelson's 8mm "cleats" were cleared, although he did decide to handle it differently himself after the round anyway.

"Sitting in the locker room, I heard Vijay talk to other players about it and I confronted him," said the 33-year-old. "He expressed his concerns. I expressed my disappointment with the way it was handled. I believe everything is fine now." Some hope.

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice