Masters Field 2014: Golfers to Watch on Day 3
Saturday is referred to as "Moving Day" on the PGA Tour because, following Friday's dash to make the cut, the third round is the day players try to move up the scoreboard to give themselves a final-round shootout.
It's a little different at a major championship, however. There is still that desire to make the climb toward the top of the board, but it's a much harder climb at Augusta National.
In addition to the general attraction of the Masters on a Saturday, there is a group of players who will bear watching on what is forecast to be a warm, sunny afternoon.
Will Bubba Watson be able to hang on? Can Adam Scott, the defending champion, get back to his Friday form? How will Bill Haas and Rory McIlroy respond after horrendous days on Friday?
Check out my list of golfers to watch on Saturday.
Where he stands: First, after rounds of 69-68.
What he needs to do in the third round: Watson surged into the lead with Friday with a string of five birdies in the middle of his round. He fell back one stroke with a bogey on the 18th, but that hardly matters after that spectacular streak of birdies.
Watson will be in the last group in the third round, and the fact that he's posted scores of 70-70-67 in the last three years of the Masters should certainly help him.
He'll need to find a way to maintain the rhythm and balance he's had the first two days. Staying calm would be a good thing as well for a guy who's been known to get jumpy on the course.
History is against him, however. He's just 1-of-8 in holding 36-hole leads.
Where he stands: 69-72, tied for third
What he needs to do in the third round: Erase from his memory how he played the first, fourth and fifth holes in Friday's second round. He bogeyed each of those holes and took all of the momentum away from his opening-round 69.
The defending champion rebounded, however, with a strong three-under par on the back nine and has himself right back in the hunt. He's in a four-way tie for third, but he might be the one Watson will be keeping the closest eye on.
If Scott plays well enough, how about a Sunday final pairing of Watson and Scott?
Asked Adam Scott if he thought he & Bubba had a distinct advantage over rest of leaderboard as recent Masters champs, he said he thinks so— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) April 12, 2014
Where he stands: 71-77, tied for 46th.
What he has to do in the third round: McIlroy needs to find a four-leaf clover or rabbit's foot to rub between tonight and that late-morning tee time he'll have Saturday. The fact that he shot 77 tells you how badly he played, but it doesn't really tell you about the bad luck he had.
His tee shot on the fourth hole flew over the green, over the fifth tee and nearly hit Adam Scott on the way by. He was close to a wooden fence and chose to go back to the tee instead of trying to hit from there. He ended up making double bogey, but that wasn't the worst bit of luck.
On the 13th, McIlroy hit a big drive and had an 8-iron left into the green. His shot was just a touch left, and when it came down, it hit a green-side sprinkler head and bounced forward 25 yards into the azaleas behind the green.
He made a nice shot out of there onto the green but ended up making a bogey.
McIlroy made a double bogey on the 10th.
Where does he stand: 71-71, tied for seventh.
What does he have to do in the third round: Fred Couples has been amazing in the first two rounds of the Masters the past five years. On the weekends, however, Couples has played like a man in his 50s. With his performance Thursday and Friday, he'll go into Saturday in the top 10 for the fifth straight year.
His mission for Saturday is a simple one, actually. He has to find a way to forget just about everything else except what he's doing. It's seemed that in previous years, once he got to Saturday, Couples lost some of that famous "cool." And when he started to make a mistake or two, the snowball started to form and he fell quickly.
And he does have this going for him: For the second time in his career, his tee shot on the par-three, 12th hole came up short, but somehow stayed on the bank instead of rolling back into Rae's Creek. The other time that happened? In 1992, when he won the Masters.
Where he stands: 70-71, tied for third.
What he needs to do in the third round: He needs to continue doing what he's done the first two rounds. He's hit a nice percentage of fairways and greens, and that's always a good formula in a major championship.
Blixt, playing in only his second major, had a wild day on Friday. He made four birdies, a double bogey (on No. 11) and a bogey.
This former Florida State University golfer has shown a lot of poise at Augusta National. He'll be a fun one to watch on Saturday, seeing if he'll be able to handle the Saturday afternoon heat.
Where does he stand: 68-78, tied for 26th.
What he has to do in the third round: Bill Haas doesn't have much of a record at Augusta National, with his 20th-place finish last year the best he's had. Despite his sparkling 68 in the first round, he gave strong evidence on Friday that his game and the storied layout do not mix well.
After that 68 yesterday, Haas ballooned to 78 on Friday. After an opening-nine of 37, Haas went bogey, double bogey, bogey and bogey on holes 10 through 13. That's five over par in four holes.
Haas made only seven pars all day, but he did have seven bogeys, a double bogey and three birdies on his card.
He'll need to find some way to cleanse body and spirit overnight of whatever demons overtook him Friday and try to get back to playing the kind of golf he did when winning the tour championship in 2011.
Where he stands: 71-70, tied for third.
What he needs to do in the third round: All of the things he's done since he took the golf world by storm last year: hit quality putts, hit pure shots from tee to green and continue to play fearlessly in the face of great pressure at a place like Augusta National.
He bogeyed three holes, birdied three holes and played the par-five 15th almost perfectly. Spieth hit the green in two and knocked in a slippery downhill 25-footer for eagle to get to three-under par, just four shots behind Bubba Watson with 36 holes to play.
Keeping in mind that there are 36 holes left, a more superb play by Spieth could result in him being the youngest Masters champion.
He'll play with defending champion Adam Scott in the third round.
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