Masters: Adam Scott flails with putter, falls off leaderboard
Masters notebook • His 35 putts lead to a 1-over 76 in 3rd round.
Published: April 12, 2014 10:51PM
Updated: April 13, 2014 12:33AM
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Adam Scott, of Australia, reacts to a missed birdie on the 10th hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Augusta, Ga. • Adam Scott lost his touch on the treacherous greens at Augusta National.

Scott came up short with his long putter on Saturday, three-putting twice in the first four holes and tumbled down the leaderboard at the Masters.

Scott needed 35 putts to get through the third round and finished with a 4-over 76 that left him 1 over for the tournament. He is six strokes behind co-leaders Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson heading into the final round.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Scott said. “There are a lot of people between me and the leaders. But if I can play a good front nine, anything can happen on the back, and it would be fun to post a number and sit in the clubhouse and watch.”

The defending Masters champion is trying to become the fourth to don consecutive green jackets. Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02) accomplished the feat.

By the time Scott teed off in the third round, the Augusta greens were getting harder and faster by the minute. Scott handled them with relative ease last year and again in the first two rounds this time around.

But they got to him Saturday. He three-putted the par-4 first and did the same at par-3 fourth. Throw in two putts everywhere else through seven holes, and Scott’s anchored putter failed him. He shot a 4-over 40 on the front nine.

Saturday success

Fred Couples figured out the third round of the Masters a bit better than he has in recent years. Now he’s holding out hope that the final round could yield something spectacular.

Couples goes into final round four shots off the lead and a long shot by anyone’s estimation at the age of 54. But the 1992 winner will be playing late on Sunday, a time when strange things can happen.

“I’m playing pretty good golf and I have a shot tomorrow of shooting some silly round to maybe win, but it’s going to take a 65 or 66,” Couples said. “But you never know.”

Couples has been in contention going into the weekend several times in recent years, only to fade in the third round. But his 1-over 73 on Saturday was an improvement over his last two Masters, when he shot 75 and 77 to drop from the leaderboard.

“My average went down,” he said. “I’m not smart enough to know what 75, 77 and 73 is, but it wasn’t bad. I actually played OK.”

Couples said he can see someone making a run at the leaders from the earlier groups Sunday when the course will be a bit softer. But he said the course will be hard and fast for the late starters, making it difficult to make up ground.

Momentum swing

As the gallery grew and the cheers got louder, Gary Woodland tried to feed off all the energy.

It was quite a ride for the 29-year-old American — right up until he hit Amen Corner.

Woodland matched the lowest score ever on the front nine with a 6-under 30, and actually got his score to 7 under with another birdie at the 10th.

“It was a zone that you want to be in and hopefully I get back in that zone tomorrow,” said Woodland, who admittedly had to catch his breath as he walked to the 11th tee. “I was in a groove. I mean, I had it going. To be honest, I only missed a couple of shots.”

It was looking like Woodland would have the round of the day. But he couldn’t keep it going through the toughest three-hole stretch at Augusta National, where a bogey at the 11th and a double-bogey on 12 stifled his momentum.