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2014 Masters, Day 3: Flat-Sticks Go Flat
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/12/14
Fifty-four holes have been played at Augusta National Golf Club. Saturday was, indeed, "Moving Day" at Augusta — but for a few notables, Moving Day meant moving in the wrong direction. And as it has over the last few days, the golf course was the ultimate winner — the 11th hole, especially.

Bummer For Bubba

The 2012 champion, Bubba Watson had just one major bright spot: An magnificently-played eagle at the par-5 2nd hole resulted in a momentary five-shot lead. But five bogeys and a disappointing par at 15 resulted in a third-round 74. Instead of being three shots clear as he was on Friday evening, Watson had merely a share of the lead. And that was only because his putter managed to not let him down on the 18th green; Watson coaxed a curling four-footer to stay near the top of page one of the leaderboard.

Spieth Surges

Jordan Spieth, the 20-year-old rookie from Texas nudged his way up the leaderboard again; a second straight 70 put him in a tie for the lead with Watson at -5. Spieth showed remarkable patience and guile on the greens, although two bogeys at 4 and 11 (for the second straight day) did not help. What is remarkable is that this is his first-ever appearance at The Masters — and on Sunday, he will be in the final group.

Not-So-Great Scott

The defending champion and his broomstick putter coughed and sputtered; Adam Scott needed 35 putts on Saturday, resulting in a third-round 76 that left him tied for 16th. The undoing came at the 4th hole, when he airmailed the green. A fine chip nearly went into the jar, but his first putt burned the edge — and then his second putt actually lipped out. The double-bogey took him out of red figures in one fell swoop.

Tied For Third

Matt Kuchar made his first Masters appearance in 1998 as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. He played those 72 holes in level par, and has made the cut at five of six other Masters appearances, including a solo third in 2012. He started Saturday at level par, but after six birdies and a bogey at 11 (for the third straight day!), Kuchar was momentarily tied for the lead at 16 and 17. But at 18, he again underestimated his own strength and played through the green. His chip nearly went in, but coasted all the way down to the front of the green. His very fast uphill par-saver nearly bounced off the back of the cup and in, but would not drop.

If Bubba's putter continues coughing and Spieth's inexperience at Augusta haunts him, Kuchar has an excellent opportunity to capitalize. It may be especially important since he has let two recent PGA Tour events slip through his fingers.

Bumps For Blixt and Bjørn

Sweden's Jonas Blixt is in his first appearance, while Thomas Bjørn is at Augusta for the 11th time. Both followed each other with two birdies to get to -5, but Bjørn blundered with bogeys at 13 and 15. Blixt got chewed up on the 11th hole (again!) and at 13. AT 15, Blixt pushed his tee-shot left and smartly laid up in front of the water. With a wedge in his hand, Blixt stuck his approach just inside the back left collar and coaxed home a birdie.

Bjørn tried to reach the green with a fairway metal from the right side of the fairway, but dumped it into the water. He wedged to the back left collar, but had to two-putt for a 6.

Not To Be Counted Out

Tied for fifth are 50-year-old Miguel Ángel Jiménez ("The Mechanic") and Rickie Fowler, who is half that age. Both are tied for fifth at -3, just two shots behind the lead. Jiménez bogeyed only the 12th, playing the rest of the course almost heroically — including a birdie at the beastly 11th. The Spaniard's 66 was the low round of the day.

Fowler, who changed his swing not long ago, didn't let a bogey at 4 ruin his day; he shot an admirable 67 after rounds of 71-75. Neither player should be counted out on Sunday.

Rounding out the top ten are Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk, and Bjørn at -2, tied for 7th. Current U.S. Open champion Justin Rose shot 69 to surge to -1, tied for 10th with 1992 champion Fred Couples, Kevin Stadler, and John Senden, who moved the wrong way on Moving Day with a 75.

It is worth noting that no golfer has come from outside the top ten on Sunday to win The Masters since the late Art Wall did it in 1959 by shooting 66, including birdies at five of the final six holes.

Leaderboard and highlights

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Image via Twitter, The Masters

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