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Angel Cabrera in with a title chance

Former winner Angel Cabrera had such low expectations coming into this week’s Masters that he told Britain’s Nick Faldo at the pre-tournament champions’ dinner his game was in poor shape.

All that was forgotten in Saturday’s third round, however, as the long-hitting Argentine rediscovered his confidence with a superb five-under-par 67 to vault into a four-way tie for second place.

Champion here in 2009, Cabrera recorded six birdies and just one bogey on a steamy day at Augusta National for an eight-under-par total of 208.

“The confidence was the key,” the beefy 41-year-old told reporters after ending the round four strokes behind the pacesetting Rory McIlroy of Britain.

“The first two days I was hitting it okay, but I lacked that confidence. Today I had it and I trusted and that made a big difference. I hit the ball very well, but also I took advantage.”

Cabrera, who won the 2009 Masters in a three-way playoff with Americans Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell, has struggled for form since taking a four-month break last October.

“I had a problem with tendinitis in the left wrist,” he said. “I wanted to come back (and play) but my doctor told me I had to stop for at least three months.”

Asked what he had done during his enforced layoff, he replied with a smile: “Watching golf. I didn’t do anything special or different.”

Cabrera conceded that the prospect of being in a tie for second place going into Sunday’s final round had been most unlikely in his view at the start of the week.

“Sincerely, no, especially because I didn’t have that confidence,” he said. “But now that I see that I’m playing well, I sure think I can do it.”

A double winner on the PGA Tour who claimed his first major title at the 2007 U.S. Open, Cabrera felt his experience would be a significant factor in Sunday’s final round.

“You’ve got to start your round and see how things are, but once you reach the 10th (hole) that’s when the tournament really starts,” he said.

“The young kids are playing very well,” Cabrera added, referring to 21-year-old McIlroy and 23-year-old Australian Jason Day, who was among the four players tied for second.

“I think they deserve it; Rory, Jason. But obviously I have won the Masters, so that should help me a lot tomorrow.”

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