AUGUSTA, Ga. — Ian Woosnam is regarded as one of the best golfers in the world. The Sony ranking system lists him as No. 1.
However, Nick Faldo is generally regarded as the world's best player because of his accomplishments in major tournaments.
Woosnam says he realizes that he has to win a major event to achieve the recognition he seeks. The 5-foot 4 1/2-inch Welshman is making a major stride toward that goal.
He shot a five-under-par 67 Saturday to take the 54-hole lead in the Masters at Augusta National on an overcast afternoon with intermittent light rain.
Woosnam is at 11-under-par 205 for the tournament and holds a one-shot lead over Tom Watson, the second-round leader, who shot a 70 Saturday.
Watson, 41, is striving to win his third Masters championship and his first tournament since 1987.
"This is going to be fun," Watson said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Woosnam, 33, who got a measure of recognition in the United States by winning the tournament last month in New Orleans, has a loftier goal now.
Asked what it would mean to him to win a major, Woosnam said: "It would be a boost to my confidence. It's the only thing I want to do now--win a major tournament."
Watson has won five British Opens and one U.S. Open to go with his two Masters titles.
It could be an edge for him today, even though Woosnam is an experienced player.
"Tom was my pick early in the week, but Ian is playing well and it's not a factor that he hasn't won a major," Lanny Wadkins said.
Wadkins, 41, shot a 70 and is tied for third with Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal at 208, three strokes behind Woosnam.
Larry Mize, who won the Masters in 1987 with his astounding chip shot in a playoff, is also in contention. He moved up the leader board Saturday by shooting a 66. He had another amazing shot, a birdie putt on the 14th hole that broke at least 15 feet.
Mize is at 209, one stroke ahead of Raymond Floyd, Andrew Magee and Australia's Ian Baker-Finch.
Earlier in the day, it was an American show as Watson, Floyd, Mize, Mark Calcavecchia and Jack Nicklaus were tied for the lead at seven under.
However, Calcavecchia faded and so did Nicklaus, who got a bogey at the ninth hole, a double bogey at No. 10 and finished with a par 72 at four-under 212, seven shots behind Woosnam.
Olazabal then moved into contention with five consecutive birdies from the seventh through the 11th holes.
When Watson bogeyed the par-three 12th hole, Woosnam and Olazabal shared the lead at nine under.
Woosnam became the sole leader when he birdied the par-five 13th hole. Olazabal, playing ahead of Woosnam and Watson, bogeyed the 15th hole.
Woosnam, who was paired with Watson, didn't relinquish his lead, but it was cut to one shot when he bogeyed the par-four 18th hole while Watson was making par.
It was virtually match play for Woosnam and Watson in the last six holes. Watson matched Woosnam's birdies at Nos. 13 and 14.
Then, on the par-five 15th hole, Woosnam's 45-foot eagle putt hung on the lip of the cup. It seemed that it would drop from such a precarious position.
"If I could have waited longer, the ball would have dropped in. No doubt about it," Woosnam said. "The only thing I was worried about was pulling the flag out and knocking the ball in.
"Tom said, 'Why don't you mark it?' but the ball was so far over the hole that I don't think I could have replaced it."
So Woosnam carefully removed the flag and tapped the ball in, a near miss for an eagle.
Woosnam cited a 10-second rule as the amount of time he was allowed to wait once he got to the ball.
In any event, it was a productive round for Woosnam, who said that he has always admired Watson.
As a youngster, Woosnam said he watched Watson on television when he won those five British Opens.
"It was nice playing with Tom," Woosnam said. "He played better than he scored. When I watched him on television, he had a great swing and putted aggressively. I wanted to play exactly the same way."
If Woosnam wins today, he will get the recognition he has always sought--and some of the acclaim that has gone to Faldo.
Faldo, who is seeking an unprecedented third consecutive Masters championship, has only an outside chance of repeating. He shot a 67 Saturday, but at 212, is seven shots behind Woosnam.
The weather could be a factor today. There is a 50% chance of rain.
Floyd said the tournament will be decided on the final nine holes.
"The character and quality of those nine holes can make for anything from a score of 29 to 45," he said.