Spieth, Watson tied for lead at the Masters


AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Even without golf’s biggest star, this suddenly is shaping up as a Masters for the
Spieth, playing a brand of big-time golf that belies his 20 years, kept
his cool amid the chaos of Saturday at Augusta National. He was too
busy trying to handle a lightning-fast golf course to even look at a
leaderboard until he couldn’t avoid them over the closing holes of a
wild round.
His name at the top with Bubba Watson was compelling enough.
It’s been 83 years since a player this young won a major, and 35 years since anyone won the Masters on
his first try.
shots behind was 50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, rattling
off seven birdies for a tournament-best 66 that gave him a shot at
becoming the oldest winner in 154 years of championship golf. And still
very much in the picture is Fred Couples, the 54-year-old who won his
green jacket a year before Spieth was born.
The only mention of
Tiger Woods, absent from Augusta National for the first time in 20
years, was whether Spieth could replace him as the youngest Masters
"For a 20-year-old, he’s pretty savvy. Not much bothers
him," said Couples, who picked Spieth for the Presidents Cup. "Tomorrow
obviously is going to be a really, really hard day to try to win this.
But he’s well qualified to do it."
Spieth managed one last par
from the deep fairway bunker on the 18th hole for a 2-under 70. In his
first Masters, he has broken par all three rounds.
That gave him a
share of the lead with Watson, whose five bogeys in a round of 74
brought so many players back into the mix. Watson had a three-shot lead
at the start of the third round. When he walked off the 18th green with a
par, nine players were separated by three shots.
Spieth and Watson were at 5-under 211.
was moving day," Spieth said. "And tomorrow is about seeing how I can
control my game and emotions out on the golf course against guys that
have even won here recently. So they have been in the position I
haven’t. Doesn’t necessarily mean — I don’t think — that they have an
advantage in any way. I think that I’m very confident in the way things
are going. And really looking forward to tomorrow."
Woods was 21
when he won his first Masters in 1997. Spieth would be the youngest
major champion since Tom Creavy, who was a few months younger than
Spieth when he won the 1931 PGA Championship.
But there’s a lot of traffic on the road to a green jacket, mostly because of Watson.
stretched his lead to five shots with a 7-iron to 6 feet for eagle on
the second hold. He made only one birdie the rest of the way, a round
sprinkled with putts that he either rammed too hard or left woefully
short. Even so, the former Masters champion was right where he wanted to
"If somebody told me I would have shot 2 over and still be
tied for the lead, I would have taken it in a heartbeat," Watson said.
"So I got a shot on Sunday."
So do so many others.
Kuchar, who squandered chances to win in each of the last two weeks, hit
a pitch from well behind the 15th green that had to be perfect and was,
setting up the best of his six birdies in a round of 68. Kuchar, a
favorite in these parts from his days at Georgia Tech, was one shot
behind along with Masters rookie Jonas Blixt, who fell out of the lead
with a bogey on the 17th and shot 71.
Jimenez, who finished his
round about the time the leaders teed off, was two shots back at 3-under
213 with Rickie Fowler (67). Lee Westwood, in that small class as the
best players without a major, had a 70 and was at 214 with Jim Furyk
(72) and Thomas Bjorn (73).
"Bubba at this point is keeping me in
it," U.S. Open champion Justin Rose said after his 69, leaving him only
four shots behind. "There’s a lot of players with a chance tomorrow.
Anybody under par going into tomorrow has a good shot."
That would
not include defending champion Adam Scott, who might have thrown away
his hopes with a 40 on the front nine that led to a 76. He was six shots
Spieth fell in love with Augusta National the first time
he saw it during a golfing trip last October. He has leaned on two-time
champion and fellow Texas Longhorn Ben Crenshaw in practice rounds, and
he met with six-time champion Jack Nicklaus on Wednesday to learn as
much as he could.
The kid is a quick study.
He didn’t even
have a PGA Tour card at this time last year. Since then, he won the John
Deere Classic, became the youngest American to play in the Presidents
Cup when Fred Couples made him a captain’s pick, and had a chance in the
final hour to win the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize.
Mickelson might have seen this coming. He was paired with Spieth the
last day of the Deutsche Bank Championship in September, when the kid
shot 62. Mickelson called Couples and said, "Dude, you’ve got to pick
this guy."
Now, the young Texan has a good shot to join them in the champions’ locker room.
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