April 11, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Bubba Watson won the Northern Trust Open earlier this year. (Andrew Reddington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bubba Watson, who won the Green Jacket two years ago, has built a formidable advantage through 36 holes of this year's 78th Masters.
Watson birdied five straight on the back nine, starting at the 12th hole, en route to a 68 that left him 7 under for the tournament and leading by three. Those five straight birdies mark his career-best streak at a major.
"It's never easy," Watson said. "It's a great test of golf and I just got some good breaks, some good things that went my way. Guessed the wind right on the stretch of holes on the back nine there."
Watson got things rolling with a 30-inch birdie putt at the par-3 12th. He two-putted both par 5s for birdie and made another putt from downtown at the 14th.
The 9-iron Watson hit at the par-3 16th practically covered the pin and elicted the kind of reaction he got when he made an ace there during a practice round several years ago.
When that putt dropped, Watson was 8 under -- although he gave one shot back when he missed the green to the left at the 18th hole.
"That five hole stretch was good," Watson said in understatement. "It's one of those where you're not focused on what you're doing, you don't know that you're making all these birdies, you're focused on one shot at a time.
"At Augusta that's what you have to do."
Interestingly, Watson's front nine gave no indication of the fireworks to come on the back. He birdied the seventh but made a bogey two holes later to turn in even par and 3 under.
Sergio Garcia played with Watson each of the first two rounds and was impressed.
"Not only the back nine, I thought he played great the rest of the day," Garcia said. "He drove the ball really, really good, very far. His iron play was extremely good.
"So he played extremely well throughout the whole two rounds. And that's why he is where he is."
The third member of the threesome, Luke Donald, said Watson hardly missed a shot over the first two days.
"He's dominating the course with his length and just leaving it in the right spots," Donald said. "He's not taking too much risk on. When he has wedge and sand wedge, he can go fire at some pins. He's been able to stop it.
"His start lines on all his shots are just perfect right now. He puts a lot of curve on the ball, but he's starting it in the right direction and it's just curving back into the middle every time.
"He can move it both ways and being a left hander moving left to right around some of these holes is a lot easier. It shows because Phil (Mickelson's) had a lot of success here, too."
Click here to see Watson's scorecard.