published Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Masters set up for Sunday spectacular

Spectators cheer as Bubba Watson walks up the 18th fairway during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Augusta, Ga.
Spectators cheer as Bubba Watson walks up the 18th fairway during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Augusta, Ga.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bubba Watson and Adam Scott backed up. Jordan Spieth grew up. Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler and Miguel Angel Jimenez moved up.

And the leaderboard jumbled up Saturday at the Masters.

Today's final round at Augusta National will begin with 10 golfers separated by three strokes -- including co-leaders Watson and Spieth -- and end with somebody donning the greenest trophy in sports as patrons applaud and the sun sets behind the Georgia pines.

"You know, we're all trying to win the same trophy, we are all trying to do the same thing," said Watson, who won here in 2012. "We are all going to be nervous, and we all know what it means to our career, for our status to move forward in the game.

"So it's going to be tough for everybody, not just the guys that have never won one."

He began the day with a three-stroke lead and expanded it to five shots after two holes. But Watson couldn't maintain his distance control from the fairways or on the greens and shot a 2-over-par 74 that left him at 5 under for the tournament.

"If somebody told me on Monday I'd have 74 and still be tied for the lead, I'd have taken it all day long," Watson said. "There's a lot of people that wish they were in my situation after shooting 74."

Watson shot 38 on the front, 36 on the back -- including par saves on Nos. 17 and 18 -- and three-putted twice while missing a few other birdie opportunities. Instead of the outright lead, he's tied with Spieth.

"Today was moving day," said Spieth, who shot a 2-under 70and joined Jonas Blixt as the players under par in each of the first three rounds. "Today was a day to stay patient and try to get myself a later tee time than even today, and that goal was accomplished."

The co-leaders will be able to watch the leaderboard before joining the fray at 2:40 p.m. They can check on Matt Kuchar, who shot a 68 on Saturday and is 4 under for the tournament. Kuchar is tied for third with Masters rookie Blixt, and they'll be paired starting at 2:30 p.m.

"I'm really excited for tomorrow," Kuchar said. "This is a position all of us hope to be in when we show up Monday. You hope that your game is ready. You hope that you play good golf and you've got a chance in one of the last groups on Sunday.

"It's one of those special places and awfully exciting to be in this situation."

Jimenez, 50, and Fowler, 25, are tied at 3 under after firing the two best rounds of the day, Jimenez shooting a 66 and Fowler carding a 67.

"I have plenty of victories in my career, and having a major in my career would be amazing," Jimenez said. "That would be the flower on top to say so."

The others within three shots of the lead are 40-somethings Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn, each of whom is 2 under for the tournament. Defending champion Adam Scott shot a 4-over 76 and is tied for 16th at 1 over. He's paired with fellow Australian Jason Day at 1:10 p.m.

The juggles leave a leaderboard with past champions, past major championship contenders, Americans, Europeans, players with experience and those playing under the major pressure for the first time in their career.

"I've had a couple opportunities to win this golf tournament," Furyk said. "Some of those days went well; some of them didn't. So you learn from, probably learn from the bad experiences, the bad rounds, a little bit more than you do the good ones."

Spieth's education at Augusta has come over the last three days on the course. It also came from preparation with fellow Texan and two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and Crenshaw's legendary caddie Carl Jackson.

By listening to them, developing a plan with his caddie Michael Greller -- "I'm going to buy him a T-shirt that says, 'Carl says,' because he keeps saying that to me out there" -- Spieth is in position to become the first Masters rookie to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

He's proven since turning professional during his sophomore year at the University of Texas that he has the game to compete for majors, and he's displayed those skills this week. He's also displayed his youthful emotions.

After his tee shot at the par-3 12th on Saturday, he begged for the ball to get down as he nearly crumpled to the ground. It stopped less than 15 feet from the hole, and he parred.

"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," Spieth said. "They have been in the position and I haven't. Doesn't necessarily mean, I don't think, they have an advantage in any way.

"I'm very confident in the way things are going, and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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