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Watson halfway to goal with 67

Sunday, April 10, 2011

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Bubba Watson spoke after making the cut Friday of putting together back-to-back 67s on the weekend and seeing where that put him on the Masters Tournament leaderboard.

Bubba Watson lines up a short birdie putt on the par-5 eighth hole. Watson birdied all four par-5s on the course Saturday. (Corey Perrine/Staff)

He's halfway to that goal.

The former University of Georgia golfer tied for Saturday's best round -- a 5-under 67 that pushed him into a tie for ninth place entering today's final round at Augusta National Golf Club. He is seven shots behind leader Rory McIlroy.

"I've got one more, and hopefully that would do pretty good," Watson said.

Watson took advantage of his tremendous length off the tee on the back nine, carding three birdies in the four-hole stretch between Nos. 12 and 15. On the two par-5s in that span, Watson was on the green in two shots and had reasonable chances to make eagle before settling for birdies.

Watson said he played aggressively Saturday after starting the day in a tie for 37th.

"When you're almost dead last starting the day, you don't really think about the leaderboard until after 18," he said. "So I just went out there and freewheeled it and made some birdies."

Perhaps his most important swing of the day came on the par-3 12th -- a hole he double-bogeyed in each of the first two rounds by hitting 9-iron off the tee and going over the green. Watson opted for a wedge Saturday and placed his tee shot within a few feet of the hole, setting up a birdie.

"I've hit the ball well on that hole, but for some reason I get jacked up and fly the green," Watson said. "But I had some good swings on that hole. Today we went one club down and swung a little easier and it worked out perfect."

Watson moved to 5-under with his birdie on No. 15 but gave a stroke back on No. 17 after hitting his drive into the first cut, with trees blocking his path to the green. He chose to punch his approach into the bunker at the front right corner of the green and then chip out. His sand shot barely cleared the lip of the bunker, setting up a tough par putt that he missed for bogey.

"When you have rough like this, you can't curve the ball. It takes shot-making out when you have to punch under trees like that," Watson said. "Back in the old days with no rough, you could move the ball left-to right, right-to-left. Today I was just trying to hit it in the bunker and hopefully get up and down."

He reclaimed the stroke on the next hole, hitting a 52-degree gap wedge onto the 18th green, setting up a birdie putt from about 20 feet that he dropped to complete his round in style.

After bouncing back from the bogey on No. 17 with a birdie on the finishing hole, Watson said he believes in the momentum factor -- but only to an extent:

"I'd rather be 5-under than 4-under. But tomorrow, it's all out the door. My round's done."

"Tomorrow I might wake up sick, I might wake up perfect and play great, might play bad, so the momentum's done after that. Just making the putt makes my dinner taste better. That's about it."

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

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