Bubba Watson enjoyed a birdie bonanza on the back nine during the second round to take a commanding lead of the 2014 Masters heading into the weekend. No lead is safe at Augusta National Golf Club, however, with danger lurking around every corner.
That's especially true this year given the difficult scoring conditions. Even though Watson is on a nice pace at seven under, fewer than 15 golfers are under par after two rounds. So the 2012 champion has given himself a little extra margin for error, but there's still plenty of work to do.
All things considered, it should develop into a very interesting weekend at Augusta with numerous twists and turns along the way. Up next, the third round. Let's check out all the key details, including coverage information, tee times and a preview.
2014 Masters Leaderboard
Day 3 Coverage Info
Where: Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
When: Saturday, April 12
Watch: CBS (3–7 p.m. ET)
Live Stream: Masters Live
Round 3 Tee Times
|1||10:15 a.m.||Rory McIlroy||(Marker)|
|2||10:25 a.m.||Jason Day||Joost Luiten|
|3||10:35 a.m.||Jose Maria Olazabal||Darren Clarke|
|4||10:45 a.m.||Miguel Angel Jimenez||Sandy Lyle|
|5||10:55 a.m.||Billy Horschel||Gary Woodland|
|6||11:05 a.m.||Chris Kirk||Martin Kaymer|
|7||11:15 a.m.||Oliver Goss||Francesco Molinari|
|8||11:25 a.m.||Nick Watney||Thongchai Jaidee|
|9||11:35 a.m.||Bill Haas||Thorbjorn Olesen|
|10||11:55 a.m.||Ian Poulter||Rickie Fowler|
|11||12:05 p.m.||Steven Bowditch||Brendon de Jonge|
|12||12:15 p.m.||Hunter Mahan||Justin Rose|
|13||12:25 p.m.||Vijay Singh||Bernhard Langer|
|14||12:35 p.m.||Steve Stricker||Larry Mize|
|15||12:45 p.m.||Mike Weir||KJ Choi|
|16||12:55 p.m.||Henrik Stenson||Stewart Cink|
|17||1:05 p.m.||Lee Westwood||Brandt Snedeker|
|18||1:15 p.m.||Louis Oosthuizen||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano|
|19||1:35 p.m.||Lucas Glover||Matt Kuchar|
|20||1:45 p.m.||Kevin Stadler||Jamie Donaldson|
|21||1:55 p.m.||Stephen Gallacher||Russell Henley|
|22||2:05 p.m.||Jim Furyk||Kevin Streelman|
|23||2:15 p.m.||Fred Couples||Jimmy Walker|
|24||2:25 p.m.||Adam Scott||Jordan Spieth|
|25||2:35 p.m.||Thomas Bjorn||Jonas Blixt|
|26||2:45 p.m.||Bubba Watson||John Senden|
Watson has always been a player who runs hot and cold. The one thing that stood out over the first few days was his patience. He didn't take any unnecessary risks and remained near the leaders until he hit one of those hot streaks, rattling off five straight birdies.
It allows him to enter the weekend with a three-stroke lead. His focus must remain on avoiding disaster in the form of a cold spell. He's done a nice job of simply taking what the course gives him and that needs to continue, even if other players start to make a charge.
Bob Harig of ESPN passed along comments from Watson after the second round and it certainly sounds like he's trying to keep his approach as simple as possible:
If I can hit greens that means I've hit good tee shots, and I hit good irons shots and just trying to make par from there and throw in a birdie here and there.
While the popular American has the inside track on his second green jacket, there's a talented group of golfers in the trailing pack capable of at least putting some major pressure on Watson.
Will Watson hang on to his lead?
The two names that immediately stand out among the other leaders are Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth, who are playing in the same group on Saturday.
Between the defending champion and one of golf's most promising young stars, there's a good chance at least one of them will make their presence felt on moving day. They don't have to chase down Watson, but they would like to reduce the deficit heading into the final round.
Both Scott and Spieth also fall within the parameters provided by ESPN Stats and Info about where the winners have come from in recent Masters history:
Only 1 of last 27 Masters winners was outside top 10 after 36 holes (2011). 9 of last 10 winners were 3rd or worse after 36 holes.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 11, 2014
Beyond that pair, there's a interesting combination of other contenders lurking and hoping things fall their way over the next couple days.
It's a group that includes unheralded hopefuls like John Senden, Thomas Bjorn and Jonas Blixt. Veterans with plenty of big-tournament experience in Fred Couples and Jim Furyk. FedEx Cup points leader Jimmy Walker also finds himself in the mix.
Ultimately, any player behind Watson is going to need him to make some mistakes to catch up, though. Since the scoring conditions are so difficult, he's simply built too much of a lead to get chased down if he continues to shave three or four strokes off each day.
If Watson scores around par or worse on Day 3, however, the door will open for other players to make their move. It should make for an intriguing round of action. Since it's Augusta, there's a good chance drama is on the way.