When third round play was over on Saturday, it hardly seemed possible that Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson were tied for the lead in the Masters Tournament headed into the final round. Spieth, a 20-year old upstart, played the Augusta National course in complete control. Watson, on the other hand, looked at though he had a flat tire and just happened to get enough mileage from a temporary spare to make it home between the ditches.
It was a minor miracle that Watson is not out of it completely. Beginning the day with a 3-shot lead, Watson started his round with a bogey on the first hole. Even with an eagle on the second, he looked ready to give up the ship at any moment. With four bogeys on the front nine, he made the turn at 38 and then just held it together with duct tape on the back. A sensational birdie on 10 put him back at six under par, and to Bubba’s credit; he never actually lost the lead.
Watson got a good par on 14, and it was almost taken for granted that, with his distance off the tee, he would birdie or even eagle no. 15, a reachable par-5. A mammoth drive left him 180 years out, but his approach went over the green and left him a short-side chip that required a delicate touch. His chip stopped on the fringe and he would miss the putt for a disappointing par. On 16, a par-3, he short-sided himself again and tried putting it onto the green from the short fringe. He left it short enough to miss and he did, taking bogey and dropping back into a tie for the lead. Watson made par on 17, but had to make a treacherous 10-footer to save it. With the Masters Tournament lead hanging by a thread heading into the final hole his drive went deep into the trees to the right of the fairway. A friendly ricochet bounced his ball back into the fairway, about 190 yards uphill to the green. Flirting again with demolition, the left-hander lined up to hook it into the green and hit it straight into the gallery on the left. He almost holed his chip but left himself five feet for par and knocked it in.
Meanwhile Jordan Spieth just played solid golf. He has had no spectacular rounds in the 2014 Masters Tournament, but he has had three very good rounds, never breaking 70 but always breaking par. The youngster from Dallas, TX had four birdies and two bogeys over his 18 holes on Saturday and finds himself in a tie for the lead on the final day of his very first Masters. The last time there was a winner in his first Masters was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. Young players simply do not win the Masters. Jordan Spieth has a chance to break the mold.
Even though Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson share the Masters Tournament lead headed into the final round on Sunday, there are several players right behind them who all have a good chance to win. Matt Kuchar had 68 on Saturday and is just one shot back at four under along with Jonas Blixt of Sweden. Another stroke back at three under are 50-year old Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and Rickie Fowler. Jimenez teed off early and had the best round of the tournament on Saturday, firing a six under par 66. Fowler almost matched him with 67. Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn are all at two under. Still in the mix at one under par are Fred Couples, Justin Rose, Kevin Stadler and John Senden.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky