February 01, 2014
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bubba Watson briefly lost his focus on the back nine Saturday at TPC Scottsdale.
Then he birdied the 17th on his way to a 3-under 68 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
"Somehow I didn't make a bogey coming down the last eight holes," said Watson, who hit just two fairways on the back nine Saturday. "I'm always in play for the most part, and so I can manufacture something.
"That's what I did on the back nine today. Today wasn't about a golf swing or anything. It was about manufacturing something and getting into the clubhouse. That's what I did."
Watson is looking for his first victory since the 2012 Masters but will have to hold off a bevy of challengers -- 10 players, including Harris English, Hunter Mahan and Pat Perez, are within five strokes of the lead.
. @Brendan_Steele has capped off the round of the week thus far -- a 9-under 62 -- that puts him in the clubhouse at -11, currently T4.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 1, 2014
MAN OF STEELE: The best round of the week came Saturday from Brendan Steele, who birdied four of his last five holes en route to a 62.
Steele jumped from a tie for 48th at the start of the day to a tie for sixth four strokes back.
"Sometimes you just get courses where the shots set up to your eye and you get flags that look good to you," said Steele, who had nine birdies, zero bogeys and closed in 30. "A lot of drivers here are good for me, kind of medium-wide fairways, and having to get it down there has always kind of suited my game."
Indeed. Steele has finished in the top six here each of the last two years.
Always sweet to make a birdie on 16! The crowd is always awesome. Gave myself a chance for tomorrow, that's all you can ask.— Hunter Mahan (@HunterMahan) February 1, 2014
MAHAN IN CONTENTION AGAIN: Four years ago, Hunter Mahan won at TPC Scottsdale.
After a 65 Saturday that included 10 birdies, he finds himself in contention again.
Why does Mahan seem to play so well here?
"I think it's a ball-striker's place," said Mahan, who ranks 10th in fairways hit and 13th in greens in regulation this week. "I have great speed for the greens right now. I feel comfortable almost every putt."
Speaking of putting, that has improved each day, from 30 putts the opening round, 29 the second and 27 on Saturday.
GREEN DAY: Saturday was "Green Out" Day at TPC Scottsdale, where players, fans and media were encouraged to wear green in recognition of the day. For all those who did, $1 will be donated to local charities -- Arizona Recycling Coalition, Arizona Chapter of Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and Waste Not.
Most players went along with it, wearing one form of green or another. That included Pat Perez (see below).
SUPER SUNDAY: Ryan Moore grew up in Washington state, so clearly he is pulling for the Seahwaks in the Super Bowl.
"I have been wearing the colors all week, doing the best I can to represent the Seahawks," he said after a 64 to pull within three of the lead. "I think it's going to be a fun game, and obviously, you know, can't wait to watch it."
Kevin Stadler, on the other hand, grew up in Denver before eventually moving to Scottsdale and on Saturday wore a Broncos shirt.
"Very ready," said Stadler, just two off the lead, of the game. "Can't wait."
Bubba Watson? He simply couldn’t decide.
"I'm like the media," he said. "I'm going both ways. Russell Wilson, the (Seattle) quarterback, we haven't met yet but we have communicated. He's a great guy. I love what he stands for, love how he plays the game.
"Peyton Manning, he's great on and off (the field) just like Wilson, but any one of those guys winning would be great. I'd love to see Peyton win another one. I think he's played well enough. It would be cool to see him win another one. Maybe he will say that about me winning another major."
The good news for all three is that the tournament is scheduled to end about a half hour before kickoff.
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