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Watson survives a rough second

Bogeys mount, but cut is made

Saturday, April 09, 2011

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Players across the course were posting low scores Friday, but a sizable contingent of Masters Tournament patrons still followed Bubba Watson and his roller-coaster sideshow.

The former University of Georgia golfer was all over the map in shooting 1-under 71, which left him at even par at the midway point, but when a player scalds his driver down the fairway the way Watson does, fans will show up to witness his handiwork.

"I've hit my driver good. That's not the problem," he said Friday, after his driver consistently left him in good birdie position. "The problem is 12. I've doubled 12 both days."

Watson seemed to be on a roll when an ugly double bogey on the par-3 12th kept him from posting a score in the 60s.

A double bogey on the par-4 third and a bogey on No. 6 took Watson to 3-over, but he started to turn things around on No. 9 when a booming drive set up a successful birdie putt. The 10th hole played out in similar fashion, with another birdie moving Watson to 1-over.

Things were looking up when he arrived at 12th tee, only to push a 9-iron into the back right bunker on the dangerous par-3 hole. His second shot from the bunker bounced into the greenfront bunker, setting up a two-putt, momentum-stopping double bogey.

"I've hit 9-iron my whole career, my other two tournaments here, and I hit 9-iron the last two days that flew 15 yards too far," Watson said. "So for some reason it's going farther.

"Once I went long, I was on the downslope, so I had no chance to stop it (with the bunker shot)," he said. "So I had to aim toward that bunker so it would stop by the bunker and not the water. Then when I did that, it was on the other downslope."

Watson, always keeping a watchful eye on the scoreboards, knew after the 12th that he would need to take advantage of the par-5s at Nos. 13 and 15 if he was to survive to play the weekend. He attacked on both holes and saved his round.

Watson tapped in for birdie on No. 13 after barely missing an eagle, then converted a big-breaking 35-footer for eagle on No. 15 to get back to even par.

"We were guessing I'd need to get to even. I wanted to get to 1-under starting today," Watson said. "And then I knew I had two birdie holes with 13 and 15, and 14 was a birdie hole where the pin location is today. So I knew there was a chance to do it. It's just can I do it -- that's the key -- and I just happened to do it and got back to even par, so that was good."

After the round, Watson lamented his mistakes at No. 12 that piled four extra strokes onto his score, but he otherwise was pleased to have made it back to even par.

Because Friday's swirling winds and tougher pin placements made scoring more difficult, Watson insisted he can still contend on the weekend.

"Today is tougher because they've got back pins. When they've got back pins, nobody wants to go over, so to attack holes, it's tough," Watson said. "With it windy like this, it just makes it tougher on top of that, so today's playing tough, and if you look, nobody's really running away. A couple of guys are getting birdies and then falling back."

Reach David Ching at david.ching@onlineathens.com.

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