Americans in striking distance in Rio Olympics

By Teddy Greenstein
Published on
Americans in striking distance in Rio Olympics

Bubba Watson joked that there's only one thing detracting from his Olympic experience -- having to play golf.

"I'm hanging with the other athletes; I want to go see other sports," he said Saturday before departing to watch badminton. "Golf gets in the way."

OK, but it was a pleasant diversion in Round 3. Watson's second straight 4-under 67 propelled him to 6-under for the event, tied for fourth place. Unfortunately fourth gets you nothing here.

"Any kind of medal," Watson said, "would be the thrill of a lifetime."

Leader Justin Rose (12-under) and Henrik Stenson (11-under) are in prime position to climb the medal stand. Marcus Fraser (9-under) is three clear of Watson.

In the case of ties, a sudden-death playoff would be used. Now that would be a trip.

OLYMPIC GOLF: Leaderboard | Photo Gallery | Get the App | Watch on NBC

Two other Americans have a shot, though perhaps only for bronze.

Matt Kuchar is at 5-under and said he might take some risks Sunday: "There's no protecting a top-10 or Top-5. You strive to be on the podium."

Rickie Fowler surged to 3-under thanks to a 7-under performance Saturday under sunny, breezy conditions

"Normally you don't get rewarded much for second and third (place)," Fowler said. "But here you can walk away with some hardware."

Fowler's front-nine 29 featured a holeout from 73 yards on No. 9. He made birdie putts on 17 and 18 covering a combined 37 feet.

"It's definitely a different vibe at the Olympics," Fowler said. "Having other athletes come out to watch and to watch other athletes compete ... it's something I'm going to remember forever."

What Watson likely will remember from this round is what happened on the 14th green. As he pulled his putter back on a 30-foot birdie try, a clump of dirt fell onto the playing surface. He tried to stop his stroke but instead jabbed at the ball, advancing it a few feet.

"Guess I didn't pay my caddie very well," Watson joked of his dirty blade.

This article was written by Teddy Greenstein from Chicago Tribune and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.