Masters 2014 Scores: Biggest Surprises from Day 3
Buckle your seat belts for a dramatic finish in the Masters.
If the surprising results of Round 3 are any indication, there will be no shortage of memorable moments in this year's final round.
Start off with a pair of young players who shook off the pressure and asserted themselves on moving day. Then there's the Spanish golfer who found a way to come up with the best round of the tournament.
The third round also saw both the defending champion and second-round leader struggle, just when it appeared they might put their own signatures on the tournament.
Here's a look at the biggest surprises of the third round.
The Charge of the First-Timers
The Masters is known to eat up players who come to Augusta to compete for the first time in their career.
The course is just too mentally demanding and the challenges of the hard greens and narrow fairways often lead to mistakes, especially in the Saturday and Sunday rounds.
Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt may be competing in the Masters for the first time, but neither player has been intimidated by Augusta. Spieth, 20, has become one of the tour's top stars. He has played like it at Augusta, as he fired a two-under-par 70 to move into a tie for the lead with with Bubba Watson at five-under-par.
Spieth appeared to be on the edge of losing control of the round through the first four holes of the back nine, but he held it together and lost just one stroke to par on those holes.
"I controlled my mental game the best of my life and tomorrow I need to control it even better."-20 yr old Masters co-leader Jordan Spieth— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) April 12, 2014
Blixt, 29, fired his second consecutive 71 and is just one stroke behind Spieth and Watson. Blixt also had problems on the back nine when he bogeyed the 11th and 13th holes, but the Swede got it back together with birdies on the 15th and 16th holes.
Blixt told CBS interviewer Bill Macatee that he has found the Masters to be "a lot of fun but very difficult."
It's one thing for Blixt and Spieth to have fun through 54 holes, but the last 18 will be the true challenge.
Golf's Most Interesting Man Lights It Up
But while he may not resemble a world-class performer, he likes to put on a show at Augusta.
However, it looked like that was not going to happen this year. He was decent in the first round with a 71, but he looked like a competitor whose time had passed in the second round when he shot a four-over-par 76. His tee shots lacked distance and his putting was non-descript.
Surprisingly, Jimenez seemed invigorated on moving day. He got warmed up on the front nine with a two-under-par 34. He found his stride on the back nine as he fired five birdies—along with one bogey—and he came home with a 32. Jimenez hit the ball well throughout his round, and his overall accuracy has been uncanny and the key to his success at Augusta.
Miguel Angel Jimenez (T2 now after his 66) has kept the ball in play beautifully this week. He's found 39 fairways out of 42 (92.86%).— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) April 12, 2014
Jimenez joined Ben Hogan and Fred Couples as the only players 50 or older to record a 66 at the Masters. Jimenez has participated in 61 majors and is still looking for his first victory in one of golf's biggest events.
Bubba Loses His Touch on the Greens
After two days of stellar play and razor-sharp putting, Bubba Watson seemed to lose his edge on moving day.
Early in the round, it looked like Watson might run away from the field. He built a five-stroke lead after he carded an eagle on the second hole, but he struggled with his putter throughout the majority of the round. He had birdie opportunities on the three remaining par fives, but he was forced to settle for par on all of those holes.
Watson's touch on the green was superb in the first two rounds. He's going to try to recapture that on Sunday, but he has had problems winning when he's been tied for the lead or ahead after 54 holes.
Bubba Watson with 54-hole lead/share in career: 1 win in 7 tries. 1 final round under par, combined score +4.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) April 12, 2014
If Watson can't put Saturday's difficulties behind him, he won't come away with his second green jacket in three years.
Fowler Has a Round to Remember
Rickie Fowler is regularly thought of as one of the players who could assert himself on the tour and head to the top because of his immense talent.
Nobody has ever denied that he has the physical tools to become a special player. However, Fowler has rarely played to his immense potential. Fowler was two-over-par heading into the third round after shooting a disappointing 75 in the second round.
Fowler put that disappointment behind him when he attacked the course on moving day. He shot a five-under-par 67 that could have been even lower had he made one or two more makeable putts.
Still, the tour's resident fashionista is in contention heading into the final round as he is three-under-par for the tournament.
Scott Fails to Answer the Challenge
Yes, Adam Scott is still competing in the Masters.
If you watched the majority of the CBS broadcast on moving day, you saw almost nothing of Scott until he missed a birdie attempt on the 18th hole.
The defending Masters champion had a poor round, shooting a four-over-par 76 that took him from three-under-par to one over-par.
Scott got off to a miserable start, as he had a double-bogey on the fourth hole and was four over for the round by the time he finished the fifth hole.
Scott didn't do any further damage the rest of the round, but he could not climb out of the hole. That was enough for the production crew to virtually ignore him throughout the round, which is quite surprising for a player who is widely recognized as having perhaps the best swing in the game.
It was quite surprising—perhaps shocking—to see his game leave him at such a crucial moment.