Spieth joins Watson in Masters lead
Augusta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jordan Spieth had two birdies and a bogey on both sides Saturday, and that helped him move into a tie for the lead at the 78th Masters.
Spieth shot 2-under 70 to finish 54 holes at 5-under-par 211. Second-round leader Bubba Watson stumbled to a 2-over 74 to slip into a tie for the lead.
Watson, the 2012 champion, has won just once in eight tries when holding the 36-hole lead.
Spieth could break all kinds of records if he were to win on Sunday. If he wins, he would be youngest Masters champion ever. Spieth would also be the fourth player to win the Masters in his first appearance at Augusta National.
Matt Kuchar, who tied for third at the Masters in 2012, carded a 4-under 68 to jump into a share of third place at minus-4. He stands alongside Jonas Blixt, who managed a 1-under 71 in round three.
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Rickie Fowler were the first two players to break 68 this week. Jimenez fired a 6-under 66 to grab a share of fifth place at 3- under 213, while Fowler posted a 5-under 67 to also end at minus-3.
After two holes, Watson was five shots clear of the field. He erased a bogey on the first with a 5-foot eagle putt on No. 2. Spieth, who was two groups ahead of Watson, briefly got within four when he birdied the third.
Spieth, the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, gave that shot right back when he bogeyed the fourth. Watson came up short at No. 4 and also tripped to a bogey there. Watson 3-putted for bogey on the sixth and followed with a bogey on the seventh, when he failed to get up and down for par from over the green.
Watson's lead was down to one over Blixt and Spieth, who birdied the sixth to get to 4-under par. Blixt was the first to join Watson in the lead. Blixt birdied the ninth to meet Watson at minus-5.
After a pair of pars, Watson stuffed his approach within three feet at the 10th and he kicked that in for birdie. That was his only birdie on the day. He was back in the lead at minus-6 at the time.
Watson was three clear of Spieth, who bogeyed the 11th, and two ahead of Blixt, who also dropped a shot on 11. Watson remained at 6-under as he parred five straight holes from the 11th.
That opened the door for Spieth and Blixt. Spieth birdied the 14th and made it two in a row as he birdied the 15th from six feet out to get within one at minus-5. Spieth closed with three pars in a row to get in first at minus-5.
"We could tell early on that the greens were pretty ridiculous, they were so fast. Adam (Scott) and I were looking at each other and scratching our heads," Spieth said. "You had to put the ball in the right spots and think your way through from the tee box on. You can't let focus go astray for one moment."
Blixt dropped his second shot in three holes as he bogeyed the 13th to dip to 3-under. He converted back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 to gain a piece of the lead at minus-5. However, he bogeyed the 17th to end one back.
"I've been hitting all of my clubs pretty well, except for my driver, this week. It's just a mental struggle out there," Blixt admitted. "It's really difficult. The greens are really firm and fast."
That left it up to Watson, whose run of five pars in a row ended on No. 16. Watson's tee ball went just over the back edge, and he putted to five feet. However, he missed the par-saving putt and fell into a share of the lead.
Watson 2-putted for par on 17. At the last, his tee shot caromed off the right trees and back into the fairway. Watson hit a poor second shot left of the green, but he chipped inside five feet and made the putt for par and a share of the 54-hole lead.
"Knowing that I'm in the final group, staring at the young kid (Spieth), it'll be fun. If I play halfway decent on the front nine, that back nine charge is what everybody talks about and knows about, and that's what we want, we want that shot on the back nine to win it," Watson said.
Lee Westwood, the 2010 runner-up, posted a 2-under 70 to end in a tie for seventh at 2-under-par 214. He was joined there by 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk (72) and two-time British Open runner-up Thomas Bjorn (73).
Reigning U.S. Open winner Justin Rose shot 3-under 69 to gain a share of 10th place at minus-1. He stands alongside 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples (73), Valspar Championship winner John Senden (75) and Phoenix Open champ Kevin Stadler (72).
Scott, the defending champion, struggled to a 4-over 76 to end three rounds at 1-over-par 217. He is tied for 16th. Rory McIlroy played with a marker in the first group out and posted a 71. That helped him jump from 51st place into a share of 24th at 3-over 219.
NOTES: Watson has won once in seven tries with the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour ... Spieth owns a piece of the 54-hole lead for the second time in his tour career. He took second place the previous time he was in that position ... Four of the top 13 players on the leaderboard are major champions, while Blixt and Spieth are both playing in their first Masters tournament.
04/12 20:06:01 ET