Notes: Watson to enjoy last round as champ
By Nancy Armour, Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bubba Watson is about to be replaced.
The defending Masters champion made up some ground with a 2-under 70 on Saturday. But at nine strokes back, and with some big names in front of him, he knows his chances of winning a second straight green jacket are pretty slim.
"I'd have to shoot a real low one tomorrow to have a chance," Watson acknowledged. "But I'll come out tomorrow and just enjoy the walk as my last day as defending champ."
An odd number of players made the cut and Watson was the first one out, so he played with a marker. They made their way around Augusta National in a blistering 3 hours and 20 minutes, a nice change from the almost six-hour rounds from the first two days.
Better yet? Jeff Knox, who holds the non-tournament course record from the members' tees, is a Georgia alum like Watson.
"I met him about 10, 12 years ago," Watson said. "So it was fun hanging out with him and just enjoying the day."
Watson will have another reunion Sunday. He's paired with Charl Schwartzel, who, as the 2011 Masters champion, had the honor of putting the green jacket on Watson after he won.
TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE: Tim Clark had his best round ever at the Masters on Saturday, a 5-under 67 that also was the low round of the day.
Quite a surprise considering his struggles on the greens just a day earlier.
"Not a bit," Clark said when asked if he'd spent time on the putting green between Friday and Saturday's rounds to work out the kinks. "I just kind of went home and tried to forget about it and just come out with a good attitude again. I mean, that's all you can do. The worst thing I could have done yesterday was probably go and practice and grind over it.
"I just had to kind of let it go."
Beginning Saturday at 2-over, Clark birdied five of his first seven holes. He would get to 4 under with a birdie on the par-3 16th, but bogeyed the 18th. That put him at 3-under 213 for the tournament, which was good enough to keep him in contention when the course firmed up later Saturday.
Clark is four strokes behind co-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera.
"It was gettable for me today, being firmer, the fairways being firmer anyway. And going off early, the front nine, the greens are somewhat receptive," Clark said. "So I was able to get some birdies early and sort of try and hang on."
BAD MOVES: Phil Mickelson made a big move at the Masters.
In the wrong direction.
He made back-to-back double bogeys on 11 and 12 on Saturday on his way to a 5-over 77. He's now 8 over for the tournament, no threat to add a fourth green jacket to his collection.
"I just played terrible. There's no way around it," Mickelson said. "I'm just not hitting very good golf shots, missing it in bad spots and not really knowing which side I'm going to miss it on. So my play has been beyond terrible, and that's certainly disappointing."
At least Mickelson didn't back up as far as his Ryder Cup buddy, Keegan Bradley. The 2011 PGA Champion posted the worst score of the day Saturday, a 10-over 82, and is in last place heading into the final round.
Mickelson took last week off, a rarity for him before the Masters, and he was nervous about being rusty when he took on Augusta National. With good reason, apparently.
Except for a stretch early on the back nine Thursday, he's been struggling. With a 76 on Friday, he's shot back-to-back rounds over par for the first time since 2007.
"I don't know what's going on, but I've been struggling with my ball-striking," Mickelson said. "The putter actually feels good even though I missed a bunch. The ball-striking, I just don't know where it's going to go."
While his scores may not reflect it, Mickelson is still having a blast. His wife Amy and their three kids are here this week, and Mickelson got to see them after his second double-bogey Saturday. Rather than wallowing in his poor round, he was going to have lunch his family.
"Where else would you rather be than Augusta National with this kind of weather on a weekend? It's just spectacular," he said. "Certainly I wish I played better, but it sure is fun being here."