Watson goes on birdie spree at the Masters
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Bubba Watson likes the way he looks in green. He wants to get that color back in his wardrobe.
Watson surged to the Masters lead with a spree of birdies on the back side Friday, positioning him for a weekend run at his second green jacket in three years.
"I'm trying to get the jacket back," Watson said. "I want that feeling again."
The 2012 champion at Augusta National sparked the best run of the tournament so far when he stuck his tee shot at No. 12 within 3 feet of the cup. He tapped in for the first of five straight birdies that propelled him to a 4-under 68.
"It's not science here," Watson said. "It's try to hit the greens, and if you're hitting the greens that means you're obviously hitting your tee shots well. So that's all I'm trying to do, just hit the greens."
Look who's in the mix again, too: 54-year-old Fred Couples, who posted his second straight 71.
This is the fifth straight year the 1992 winner has gone to the weekend in the top 10 — he was leading two years ago — but he's never been able to hang on.
"I can't panic," said Couples, looking to become the oldest major champion in golf history. "You're not going to pick up two or three shots here because you want to. It's not that kind of course. You've got to hang in there, expect a tough shot here and there. It's going to be a tough day tomorrow."
And don't count out defending champion Adam Scott, who got off to a rough start but rallied for 72. The Aussie was among those four shots back, still solidly in contention to become only the fourth back-to-back winner in Masters history.
Watson's closest pursuer was Australia's John Senden, who birdied 14 and 15 on his way to a 68 and 140 overall.
Five shots back with Couples were Jimmy Walker, a three-time PGA Tour winner this season who shot 72, and Jim Furyk, whose 68 matched Watson, Senden and Bjorn for the best round of the day.
First-round leader Bill Haas, teeing off on a warm, sunny afternoon with the wind picking up and the greens getting firmer, was still at 4 under approaching the turn. Then came a miserable stretch of holes starting at No. 9: bogey, bogey, double-bogey, bogey, bogey. He staggered to a 78 — 10 shots higher than the day before, knocking him nine shots back.
At least Haas gets to keep playing.
Three-time winner Phil Mickelson missed the Augusta cut for the first time since 1997.
Lefty had a triple-bogey at the 12th, where he knocked three straight shots in bunkers for his second triple of the tournament. Three birdies on the back side gave him a glimmer of hope, but 73 totaled up to 149 — one shot too many.
"It's tough to overcome those big numbers," said Mickelson, who had plenty of big-name company beyond the cut line.
Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Graeme McDowell, Dustin Johnson, Angel Cabrera and Charl Schwartzel were all headed home as well before the weekend.