COMMENTARY | Looking past the Tiger Woods penalty drop controversy, several players took advantage of perfect weather on moving day at the Masters to get into position for yet another memorable final round.
Tiger took advantage of avoiding a DQ to post his first under-par back nine of the tournament and put himself in a dangerous spot just four strokes back of leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera. But he wasn't the only one to make his mark on Saturday.
Matt Kuchar, who came in as a favorite based on his steady improvement in the biggest events, moved into solo sixth place, three back of the lead, with a sterling 3-under-par 69. Kuchar tied for the low score among the afternoon groups by avoiding big numbers.
Kuch sprinted out in 33 on the front nine then steered clear of the bogey train on the final two holes that derailed the likes of Jason Day, Fred Couples and Steve Stricker.
As I wrote earlier this year, Kuchar's biggest assets are his sunny demeanor and reliable putting stroke. Add to that the experience of career best T3 at the Masters last year and the good vibes of solid showings as an amateur here and he should be poised in the crucible of the back nine on Sunday.
Clark Gets Busy on Moving Day
The Australian contingent at the Masters is once again on a quest to end their proud country's winless streak at the year's first major. This year's contenders Jason Day, Adam Scott, and Marc Leishman, may be hoping for a little of the magic that has graced the recent play of the competitors from South Africa.
Tim Clark is the latest South African to make a push for a green jacket. Clark fired a 5-under-par 67 on moving day Saturday to get within striking distance of the lead. Clark holed a bunker shot on the par-3 4th hole to start a streak of four straight birdies. He birdied the par-5 13th and nearly aced the par-3 16th before bogeying the 18th to close his round.
Clark has made a career out of a terrific short game. He's one of the game's best from 100 yards in and effectively wields a broomstick-style putter. And he is no stranger to Augusta National with 11 career starts. Clark holed out from a bunker on the 18th in 2006 to finish second to Phil Mickelson.
Should he continue to his torrid play and breakthrough for the win, Clark will join countrymen Charl Schwartzel (2011) and Trevor Immelman (2008) in making the most of the rare opportunity to close the deal at Augusta.
Bubba Golf On Display
Bubba Watson continued his adventurous Masters' title defense on Saturday. Watson, who made the cut on the number, was the first player to tee off and ambled around Augusta National in a brisk three and a half hours.
Early on, Bubba looked poised to play himself back into contention. Following birdies on his first three holes, he added another on the par-4 10th to move to 4-under for the day and even par for the tournament.
But a double bogey on 11 and a sloppy bogey on the par-5 13th after hitting a short-iron approach derailed Bubba's momentum. He finished with a 2-under-par 70 and stands 2-over through three rounds.
Bubba's third round included six birdies, two bogeys and a double. That's tame compared to his second-round scorecard. The long-hitting lefty did not make a par from the 6th through the 16th hole Friday, tallying six birdies in the stretch that were offset by four bogeys and a double.
Mark McLaughlin has reported on the PGA Tour for the New York Post, FoxSports.com, Greensboro News & Record, and Burlington (N.C.) Times-News. He is a past member of the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association. Follow him on Twitter @markmacduke.
- Sports & Recreation
- Matt Kuchar
- Bubba Watson
- Tim Clark