By Sam Weinman
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bubba Watson was tied for the lead in the Masters when he approached the 18th green on Saturday, but this wasn't the vibe you got by looking at him. He had already flared his approach into the crowd, and chipped to five feet; and now, as he sent his par putt tumbling toward the hole, a voice could be heard in the crowd. "Oh, he missed it!"
Actually, no. Watson's putt fell, and he ended the day tied with Jordan Spieth for the 54-hole Masters lead. But for a player who emerged from the third round with a chance at a second Masters in three years, Saturday was still defined more by the struggle than by the end result.
"There's a lot of people that wish they were in my situation shooting 74," Watson said.
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True, but what's lost is how much better a situation Watson had been in just a few hours earlier. Beginning the day three shots clear of the field, Watson pulled ahead by five when he eagled the par-5 second hole. Then, perhaps predictably, Augusta National pushed back.
After going 296 holes without a three-putt, Watson three-putt the sixth, then he three-putt the 13th. Two holes later, he hammered his second shot over the 15th green, couldn't get up and down and settled for another par. A bogey would follow when he missed another short putt on the par-3 16th. By then, Watson's outright lead was gone.
"But again, you have to keep looking at where you're at. You're still winning at that time. So you can't get down," he said. "If you're going to get down when you're still winning, then you've got issues."
Then with a laugh, "And I do have issues."
It sounds complicated, but winning a Masters usually is.