Watson starts fast, but fades on back nine

AUGUSTA — Bubba Watson said he’ll walk away from today’s final round of the Masters Tournament with plenty of snapshots emblazoned in his memory.

He saw his 1-year-old son, Caleb, clapping for him during the Par-3 Contest. His wife, Angie, was with him during Masters Week after missing his winning the tournament a year ago. And, on No. 16 during a practice round, he made the third hole-in-one of his career.

All that was missing was the vision of another green jacket for Watson, who sounded accepting of the notion that his best chance at repeating slipped by Saturday with a round of 2-under 70 that started memorably and ended forgettably with the former University of Georgia golfer at 2-over par through 54 holes and nine shots behind co-leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera..

“That’s why I said tomorrow I’m just going to play 18 holes and the golf score’s going to get in the way,” Watson said. “But I’m just going to walk 18 holes knowing that at one time I was defending champ, it’s my last day as defending champ, and I can’t wait to get back out there and compete the following years. As long as I don’t do anything wrong, I’m in it for life.”

Watson birdied the first three holes, parred the rest on the front and reached even par for the tournament with a birdie on No. 10.

Things began to fall apart at Amen Corner, where his second shot on No. 11 rolled into the water, leading to a double bogey, and a bogey on No. 13 pushed him back to 1-under for the day. He took steps forward with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 but wrapped up his round with another bogey on No. 18, his second on the hole in as many days.

“I didn’t make up any ground, really,” said Watson, who was in the first group to tee off and finished in three hours, 20 minutes. “And I had a chance to do it. I was at 4 under through 10, then just had a couple of bad swings.”

The rocky stretch through the back nine quickly overshadowed Watson’s third-round successes, including several par saves and his first day of the tournament without a 3-putt.

“I had some great pars right there in the middle of the round, then one bad swing got the momentum going the other way,” Watson said.

“Just like in any sport, when you get the momentum going the other way, it seems like everything’s against you.”

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