On the lowest-scoring day in Masters history, Greg Norman took a one-shot edge into the final round; Seve Ballesteros blew a chance for a big lead; Bernhard Langer put himself in the hunt for back-to-back green jackets; Nick Price broke the Augusta National course record with 63; and Tom Watson, Tom Kite and even Jack Nicklaus also were lurking nearby.
That's a right smart Bobby Jones mouthful.
But it's nothing compared to what's expected Sunday in what has become a world shootout at Augusta International. The lead is held by an Australian, and seven men are within two strokes of him: a West German, a Spaniard, a Japanese, three Americans and Price, who doesn't know whether he's South African, Zimbabwean or British.
*Australia's handsome Norman, the Great White Shark, is at 210 after a 36-32 -- 68 charge from the pack. He never has won a major title but has terrorized the world tour for years.
*Spain's fierce Ballesteros, playing for his late father's honor, for Deane Beman's shame and for his own status as the game's No. 1 star, is at 211 after the bitterest 72 of his life. He finished bogey-bogey today to hand the lead to Norman.
*Blond, boyish West German Langer, after a 69 for 211, is trying to match Nicklaus as the only champion of consecutive Masters. "There's not going to be any added pressure. That was earlier in the week, when I wanted to show everybody last year wasn't a fluke.".
*Price may have only one prestige win to his name (the 1983 World Series of Golf), and he may have squandered the 1982 British Open, but after his 10-birdie round, he has gone from next to last to one shot off the lead.
*Donnie Hammond, born in Frederick, Md., was once a gallery guard as a boy at the 13th hole here. This week, guards wouldn't believe he was a player and made him go to the caddies' entrance. After five holes of the first round, he was 4 over par and "wanted to run behind one of those big pine trees and hide." After a 67, he's also lurking at 211.
*The United States' endangered king, Watson, who hasn't won anything in 20 months, is at 212 after a 68 that coulda-shoulda been 65. "I'd like an American to win. With the initials T.W."
*Golf's most frustrated star, Tom Kite, who has won two Vardon Trophies and a money title, but never a major, is once more in the hunt, at 212 after a 68, on the track he owns. "My game's the best it's ever been."
*Tommy Nakajima, who once took a 13 at the 13th hole -- a Masters record -- is also at 212. He said, "I think someone else will win, but I will try."
Look back two more strokes to 214 -- still in contention -- and we find Nicklaus (69), British Open champion Sandy Lyle and five other flat-bellied, limber-backed Americans: Corey Pavin, Mark McCumber, Bob Tway, Gary Koch and Danny Edwards. "I assume I'm in the hunt," said Nicklaus, who added, "I didn't make any putts -- again."
If you're really into Cinderella -- and after Price's 63, who isn't? -- think what a score in the 64-to-66 range might do for one of the dozen daydreamers at 215 (Curtis Strange, Fuzzy Zoeller, Calvin Peete) or 216 (Ben Crenshaw).
Remember, in 1978, Gary Player started Sunday seven shots behind, shot 64 and won without a playoff.
Everywhere you looked this evening, you saw gentlemen with scores in the 60s who looked depressed. With Price's score on the board most of the day, with the flags hanging limp, with the greens soft and somewhat slowed, with the pins in the easiest spots that veterans ever had seen here, all the contenders knew what was possible.
The field stroke average was 70.97, almost a full stroke lower than the record of 71.87 set in 1984. The irony was that after the first two rounds this week, nobody but Price could really rack up the red numbers for below-par scores; Price's score was the lowest of the day by four shots. "The easiest day I've ever seen after the two hardest days I've ever seen 75.1 Thursday and 74.2 on Friday ," said Kite who, like Watson, looked disgusted with 68.
Many a man wanted to kick himself. Crenshaw played the sack-and-plunder back nine in 40; a 34 (like everybody else) would have tied him with Norman. Nicklaus followed a birdie-birdie-par-birdie-birdie barrage with a klutzy bogey at the child's-play 13th and a par at the birdieable 15th. This was the Olden Bear's day to be on Norman's tail, not back in his wake.
The saddest man, no matter how hard he tried to hide it, was Ballesteros. His third Masters title of the '80s was in his hands. Instead, he let the whole world back into a wonderful one-day scramble.
"The longest putt I made all day was four feet," said the rusty Spaniard, banned from the PGA Tour this season, who all but predicted a victory for himself before this tournament began. "Fifteen times I missed inside 20 feet. That 72 was the worst I could possibly score from where I hit the ball.
"I am very happy where I am, but not how I finished. It's okay. All right. All behind me. . . . Maybe I saved the putts for tomorrow."
Norman, Watson and Kite were all shocked that Ballesteros didn't blow them away when he finished the nasty "Amen Corner" (Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13) at six under par for the tournament.
"I don't think any course in the world suits one player as well as this one suits Seve," said Price. "It should have his name written on it. He hits it so long, so high and draws it. He has the touch on the greens and the imagination around the greens. He should never be out of the top five here the rest of his life. If he's hitting the ball good, I don't think anybody can beat him on Sunday."
But that was said before Ballesteros three-putted the 17th, then dumped a 7-iron cut shot in the front trap at the 18th.
"It's a surprise," said Norman, realizing he was suddenly the pursued. "But that's Augusta National, that's the Masters . . .
"I'm very confident about my chances," added Norman. "I sorted out my balky putting this morning, and I have a new game plan that's working. . . . I've always had a hard time controlling my ego on this course. Been too aggressive and not played it as well as I should. My game's obviously suited to the place. Now I'm not playing any shots that require 100 percent execution. I'll lay up on some par 5s or aim for the middle of a green."
Many a man will sleep this evening thinking of what might have been. On Friday, Norman four-putted the 10th green from just 25 feet for a double bogey. "Mates, I had a three-footer for my fourth putt," said Norman. "I could still be out there trying to get the SOB in the hole."
"Except for one club selection, I'd be ahead," said a chagrined Watson, who used a 7-iron, not a safe 6 at the infamous little 12th hole on Friday and ended up with triple bogey.
The moaning already has begun here, as have those long dark thoughts about what might have been that linger all a golfer's lifetime. Those regrets will rise exponentially, like the drama, by Sunday night.