AUGUSTA, Ga. —
After a 7-iron within 6 feet for an eagle on the second hole gave him a five-shot lead, Watson threw it in reverse. He left shots short and long, and his putting became weak and tentative. Despite some struggles on the front nine, Watson still was in position to build a cushion until blowing birdie chances on the rest of the par 5s.
From just over the back of the eighth green, he couldn't get up-and-down. He three-putted the par-5 13th for a par. And after a massive drive on the par-5 15th hole left him only a 9-iron to the green, he went long and failed to convert that birdie chance.
Watson's jaw tightened as opportunities slipped away, and he was lucky to convert two pars at the end for a 74 and a share of the lead at 5-under 211.
"If somebody told me I would have shot 2 over and still be tied for the lead, I would have taken it in a heartbeat," Watson said. "So I got a shot on Sunday."
So do so many others.
Matt Kuchar, who squandered chances to win in each of the last two weeks, hit a pitch from well behind the 15th green that had to be perfect and was, setting up the best of his six birdies in a round of 68. Kuchar, a favorite in these parts from his days at Georgia Tech, was one shot behind along with Masters rookie Jonas Blixt, who fell out of the lead with a bogey on the 17th and shot 71.
A Masters rookie has not won a green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who finished his round about the time the leaders teed off, had a tournament-best 66 and was two shots behind with Rickie Fowler, who had a 67. Lee Westwood (70), Jim Furyk (72) and Thomas Bjorn (73) were at 2-under 214.