Masters 2014 Results: Biggest Winners and Losers from Day 3
Moving day at Augusta National Golf Club certainly did not disappoint. The Masters has been perfectly set up for a dramatic final day.
Bubba Watson started the day well in front of the field, but he faltered just enough to give the rest of the players hope headed into Sunday. Elsewhere on Saturday, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ricky Fowler had standout rounds that put them into contention, 20-year-old Jordan Spieth continued to impress, and Adam Scott's road to the repeat got a bit more treacherous.
With 13 players within four strokes of the leader there should be plenty of praying coming around Amen Corner on Sunday afternoon.
Here are the winners and losers from an exciting Day 3 at the Masters.
Loser: Bubba's Lead
Bubba Watson started the day at seven under par and with a three-stroke lead over the rest of the field. But going into the final day, things are a bit more complicated.
Watson had an up-and-down round on Saturday. He ended up with a 74, after five bogeys, a birdie and an eagle. He is still the leader, but now he shares it with Masters first-timer Jordan Spieth, and there are seven players within three strokes of them.
Still, Watson has experience on his side, after winning the green jacket in 2012. In 18 holes, we'll see if he can win his second.
Winner: The Youngster
Jordan Spieth has been one of the most impressive players at the Masters through three rounds. The 20-year-old Masters rookie has attacked the course better than most veterans.
Spieth shot a 70 on Saturday, moving him to five under and giving him a tie for the lead going into the final day at Augusta. He had four birdies and only two bogies in the third round.
Comparisons are already being made to another budding generational talent who won the Masters at a young age. The San Diego Union-Tribune's Tod Leonard commented on Spieth's ability to win the tournament, saying, "There is a chance because Spieth seems like a ridiculously old soul in golf, much like the way Tiger Woods carried himself at 21 in the 1997 Masters."
Spieth is seven months younger than Woods was when he won in 1997, meaning Spieth would be the youngest Masters winner ever if he could hang on to his place at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
Loser: Brandt Snedeker's 5-Putt
Brandt Snedeker is the 19th-ranked golfer in the world, but on the putting green on the fourth hole on Saturday in the Masters, Snedeker had a catastrophe that would make any amateur blush.
It took the 33-year-old from Tennessee five putts to get the ball in the hole on the par three. And they certainly weren't hard putts—Snedeker's first putt was only about three feet from the hole.
Snedeker couldn't recover from the quadruple bogey and ended up shooting an 80 on Saturday, taking him completely out of contention for the green jacket. Sometimes even the pros need to go back to the basics.
Winner: Miguel Angel Jimenez
There is no one in golf quite like Miguel Angel Jimenez, and thankfully the Spaniard will be contending for the green jacket on the final day of the Masters.
Jimenez got himself into the conversation by shooting a tournament-best 66 on Saturday, moving him to three under par and a tie for fifth place. He has accomplished this by hitting 39 of 42 fairways through three rounds.
Jimenez is 50 years old, but according to Bob Harig of ESPN, he doesn't think that his age is a factor at Augusta.
I love the place. It's a beautiful place, a beautiful golf course, always manicured, and I feel great here. Doesn't matter how you play, you feel good, because everything is prepared for us the way it is.
If you are 50 doesn't mean that you cannot play well. I'm still moving. I'm still flexible ... the main thing is I'm doing what I like to do in my life and I'm enjoying it completely.
Loser: Adam Scott's Front 9
After a great back nine on Friday, Adam Scott was at three under and within striking distance of his second straight green jacket.
But in golf, the pendulum can swing awfully quickly. The defending champion had a terrible start to his round on Saturday, shooting two bogeys and a double bogey on his first eight holes.
Scott finished the day with a 76, putting him at one over. A phenomenal final round could still give him a shot at becoming only the fourth golfer in history to defend his title at the Masters, but Scott is certainly not in the position that he hoped to be heading into the final 18.
Thomas Bjorn and Jonas Blixt, a pair of Scandanavian golfers who were playing partners on Saturday, both had rounds to remember.
Blixt, a 29-year-old from Sweden who is making his debut at the Masters, had an eagle and three birdies in a two-under round that left him at four under, just one stroke off of the lead.
Bjorn, a 43-year-old from Denmark, had a share of the lead at one point, but finished one over par for the day, leaving him at two under for the tournament. Still, he's only three off of the lead and well within striking distance. Bjorn has finished as the runner-up at a major three times in his career, but not since the 2005 PGA Championship.
Loser: Television Ratings
Die-hard golf fans know that there are plenty of fantastic stories left at the Masters, but unfortunately it seems as if casual fans aren't tuning in like they used to.
Tiger Woods not being in the field certainly hurts the television ratings—ESPN's ratings on Friday were a 1.8, well off the 3.0 of a year ago. Though the numbers aren't out yet, without familiar faces such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els, and with Rory McIlroy a non-factor, CBS is likely to be taking a hit this weekend as well.
Still, both Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth are great stories heading into Sunday, and the field is so close that it should make for a dramatic finish. That will definitely make for great television.
Winner: A Business-Like Attitude from Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler is known more for his colorful wardrobe and Red Bull sponsorship than his patience on the golf course, but that is all about to change after his round on Saturday.
In the third round of the Masters, a noticeably neon-less Fowler hit six birdies and only one bogey to score a 67, his best round ever at Augusta.
The 25-year-old has only one top-five finish at a major in his career, a tie for fifth at the 2011 Open Championship, and his best finish at the Masters was a tie for 27th in 2012. But Fowler is sitting at three under after three rounds, leaving him in a tie for fifth headed into the final day. His outfits are always fun, but it's nice for his golf to be the focus this week.
The Masters greens have been tough all week, but on Saturday they became downright brutal. When Ian Poulter finished his round, he tweeted that it was like "putting on glass."
We've already covered Brandt Snedeker's five-putt on the fourth hole, but he was far from the only one struggling. Bubba Watson missed a lot of putts in the short and medium range, Adam Scott and his belly putter struggled all day, and Matt Kuchar hit a put that almost went in, but ended up about 40 feet away from the hole.
The greens aren't likely to slow down any overnight, so the player who can sink the most putts and stay away from trouble with the putter is likely the one who will go away with the green jacket.
Winner: The Marker
Rory McIlroy has not had a weekend to remember. He came into the Masters as the favorite, but he struggled on Friday and barely made the cut at four over par.
But on Saturday, McIlroy's playing partner had a day he would never forget. McIlroy played with Jeff Knox on Saturday, a non-competing marker who played because the cut yielded an uneven number, and McIlroy chose not to play alone.
Knox made the most of his opportunity, shooting a 70, which was one stroke better than McIlroy's round of 71. According to Steve DiMeglio of USA Today, Knox is a 51-year-old member at Augusta who has served as the marker at the Masters since 2002.
To his credit, McIlroy took the defeat well, and gave all the credit to Knox:
Jeff is a great player. He beat me by one. So I thought he was going to be nice and 3‑putt the last and we would have a halve, but he beat me by one. … He obviously knows this place so well and gets it round. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone putt the greens as well as he does around here.
He was really impressive. I was thinking of maybe getting him to read a few of my putts out there. He played really well and he couldn’t have been more helpful. He was really nice all the way around.
Loser: Stephen Gallacher
While Miguel Angel Jimenez had the best round of the day on Saturday, Stephen Gallacher had the worst. The 39-year-old from Scotland shot an 81.
Gallacher's nine-over-par round took him from one under and in the conversation to eight over and well out of contention. He shot four double bogeys in the first 11 holes and had three more bogeys and only two birdies the rest of the way.
Still, Gallacher has a lot to be proud of. This was the first Masters for the Scot, and he did well to even make the cut. Stephen is the nephew of former European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher.
Winner: Players Under Par
Going into the final round of the Masters with the two leaders at five under, any player that is under par has to feel good about his chances. Luckily for golf fans, that means that there are 13 players in the conversation, including names such as Lee Westwood, Fred Couples and Jim Furyk.
The fact that Bubba Watson moved two shots closer to par on Saturday was great for players and viewers desperate for a down-to-the-wire finish on the final day at Augusta. Instead of running away with the green jacket, he gave the rest of the field hope.
In fact, after Jimenez shot a 66 and Fowler shot a 67, the players know that there are birdies to be had on this golf course. Players at even par and one over aren't completely out of it yet, either. It should be a fantastic final day.