Bunker Mentality

Hanson makes his name on moving day

Bunker Mentality

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Peter Hanson

"Who is Peter Hanson?" asked a reader following our Masters live blog yesterday. "Can you post a picture of Peter Hanson so we know what he looks like?" asked another.

After his stunning seven-under-par round of 65 on Saturday, everybody will know who Peter Hanson is this morning. He's the tournament leader at the 76th Masters, with an 18-hole shot at becoming the first Swede to put on a green jacket.

Hanson's burst caught a lot of people by surprise, but he had form for it. The 34-year-old finished runner-up at the Qatar Masters in February and followed it with top-fives at consecutive WGC events - both of which boasted stellar fields of the best players in the world.

He's also won four times on the European Tour and finished inside the top 20 on the Order of Merit for the last five years in a row.

Moreover, Hanson was a member of Europe's victorious Ryder Cup team in 2010, an intense experience he will be drawing on Sunday as he joins Phil Mickelson is the final pairing.

Mickelson beat Hanson 4&2 in the Sunday singles at Celtic Manor. He was in Hanson's group for the first two rounds at Augusta this year too - a draw Hanson said taught him a lot about how to play the course he took to pieces in a devastating third round.

Their two names have been tied together throughout the 2012 Masters.

Even when Hanson faced the press after making eight birdies in the lowest round of the tournament so far, it was Mickelson who dominated the agenda. "Did you hear the roars for Mickelson," came the first question.

I'd call that mildly offensive in light of Hanson's performance, but he handled the situation with typical grace and charm. He might not match Mickelson for star quality, but he certainly does for humility.

"It's going to be hard," Hanson of the task facing him on Sunday. "But I'm just going to try to enjoy a little time with the family, get as much sleep as I can and try to be ready for tomorrow."

Mickelson will tee off on the back of quite breathtaking back nine on Saturday. The three-times Masters champion shot 30, one shy of the all-time record at Augusta and produced some typically inspired shot-making to fire himself into contention.

With his experience of getting it done, Lefty must surely be considered the favourite.

But there are plenty of others in the mix too, aside from Hanson.

South African Louis Oosthuizen is a Major winner and has oozed a calm sense of purpose. Bubba Watson has the tools to win, as does Matt Kuchar.

Lee Westwood, Hunter Mahan, Henrik Stenson and Padraig Harrington are all proven, world-class talents too - and all within shooting distance of the lead.

That said, and for all Hanson's heroics, it's hard to look beyond Mickelson. At his best, at Augusta, he's close to unstoppable.

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