History is not on his side. Woods has never won a major from behind, every Masters champion has been no worse than a tie for fourth going into Sunday dating to Faldo's comeback in 1989. But at least he's still in the game.

That was never in doubt to the officials running the Masters. Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committees, said he looked at video as Woods was playing the 18th hole Friday and saw no need to ask him about the drop because he didn't detect a violation. It was only after Woods' post-round interview when he implicated himself by saying he went back a few yards by design that it became an issue.

Because he saw no problem at first with the drop and let Woods sign his card without talking to him, Ridley said it would have been "grossly unfair to Tiger to have disqualified him." He said the notion of a DQ was "not even on the table."

Woods couldn't have been too shaken up by the morning activities. He birdied the first hole. The key for everyone was simply to stay somewhere around contention, and that wasn't easy. Rory McIlroy was only three shots out of the lead when he took a bogey on the seventh hole. Little did Boy Wonder realize that it would start a nasty cycle. With a pair of 7s on his card on the back nine — wind shifts led to a triple bogey on the 11th and a double bogey on the 15th — he shot 42 on the back for a 79.

"I play 7 through 11 in 5-over par and basically my chances in the tournament are gone," McIlroy said. "So it's very disappointing. I feel like I have been playing well coming in here and it's just a frustrating day here."

Former PGA champion Keegan Bradley had an 82, while Mickelson shot 40 on the back nine for the second straight day and had a 77. Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China, went his second straight round without a birdie and had a 77. He was still smiling, soaking in his weekend at Augusta as the youngest player to make a cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament.

Meanwhile, Snedeker takes an amazing streak into the final round. He has gone 27 consecutive holes without a bogey at Augusta National, and he has a clear plan of what he needs to do be fitted for a green jacket.

"If I drive the ball in the fairway and play the par 5s well tomorrow, I'm going to have a really good day."