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Bubba, Spieth face dramatic Sunday at Masters

Final Round Preview – 78th Masters Tournament – Augusta National Golf Club – Augusta, Georgia –

Bubba Watson failed to distance himself from the rest of field in round three setting up what could be a thrilling final-round Sunday at August National to decide the 78th Masters.

Watson reached 8-under overall early Saturday and a five-shot advantage, but a wave of bogeys (five in all) brought the rest of the contenders back  into the mix. Watson shot 74 and now sits tied for the lead with 20-year-old Jordan Spieth.

Spieth and Watson tee off as the final pairing Sunday at 2:40 p.m. local time.

Matt Kuchar and Jonas Blixt are 4-under and in position to win a Green Jacket. Kuchar contended the last two weeks on the PGA Tour but failed to post a victory recording a pair of Top 5s. A 20-to-1 pick at Ladbrokes to start the week, Kuchar recorded Top 10s at Augusta in each of the last two seasons.

If Saturday was Watson’s day to struggle, he could be a great shape Sunday with the Masters Green Jacket on the line. Putting is always the catalyst at Augusta under Sunday pressure. Bubba is 5th on tour in three-putt avoidance.

Bubba, the 2012 Masters champ, has five PGA Tour victories including the Northern Trust Open at Riviera earlier this year. At No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he was a 25-1 selection to open the week.

Spieth, who won the John Deere Classic in 2013 and was runner-up in Hawaii in January, is trying to become the youngest champion of all time. Ranked 13th in the world, he is a first-time attendee at Augusta. Not since 1979 has a first-timer won the Green Jacket. A 40-1 pick earlier in the week, he ranks T-1 on tour this year in final-round three-putt avoidance.

Miguel Angel Jimenez (3-under overall and T-5 alongside Rickie Fowler) posted the week’s best round Saturday shooting 66 playing four hours in front of the lead pairing. MAJ’s round tied the best all-time for players over 50 years old.

But, it’s a difficult task to post back-to-back gems. Fowler shot 67 Saturday to position himself for his first challenge at a major championship.

Other Golf News:

  • The 54-hole leader has not won the Masters since 2009. Last season, all four 54-hole leaders failed to close the deal in major championships.
  • European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley named Sam Torrence and Des Smyth as assistants for the late September competition in Scotland.
  • Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn are all 2-under and just three back heading into Sunday’s final round. Experienced competitors, they have a shot to shoot a low round out ahead of the leaders. Westwood has eight Top 3 finishes in major championships without a victory.
  • The LPGA Tour added a tournament in China to its 2014 schedule. The tour announced the Blue Bay LPGA will take place Oct. 23-26. The tour returns to action next week in Hawaii for the LPGA Lotte Championship in Oahu.
  • Jimenez, who was leading the Masters at one point on Friday when he had it to 4-under, makes his Champions Tour debut next week at the Greater Gwinnett Championship in Georgia. He might do it as the Masters champion.
  • Adam Scott, the defending champion, struggled in round three carding a 76. He shot 40 on the opening nine holes. Scott, who is now T-16, needs to finish in a two-way tie or better for third place to replace Tiger Woods as the No. 1 player in the world rankings.