Masters notebook: Aussies bid to end Augusta drought
The Aussies have had enough of their oh-fer at Augusta National.
Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Jason Day are in the top five heading into Sunday's final round at the Masters, giving the Australians perhaps their best chance at ending their excruciating drought at the club. The Masters remains the only major an Australian has never won.
“It's hard to say exactly what it means. I'd rather not sit here and wonder so much, I'd rather do that if I win” Sunday, said Scott, a stroke behind leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera. “But, look, Aussies are proud sporting people, and we'd love to put another notch in our belt, just like any great sporting country.
“This is one thing that one of us would like to do tomorrow, for sure.”
It's not as if the Australians haven't had their chances.
Scott and Day were in the hunt two years ago, finishing second to Charl Schwartzel. And who can forget Greg Norman's heartbreaks? Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine in 1986 to win. The next year, Larry Mize chipped in from 140 feet during a playoff.
And no one will ever forget 1996. The Shark had a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo, only to gag it all away with a final-round 78.
Phil Mickelson made a big move at the Masters.
In the wrong direction.
He made back-to-back double bogeys on 11 and 12 on Saturday on his way to a 5-over-par 77. He's 8-over for the tournament, no threat to add a fourth green jacket to his collection.
“I just played terrible. There's no way around it,” Mickelson said. “I'm just not hitting very good golf shots, missing it in bad spots and not really knowing which side I'm going to miss it on. So my play has been beyond terrible, and that's certainly disappointing.”
At least Mickelson didn't back up as far as his Ryder Cup buddy, Keegan Bradley. The 2011 PGA Champion posted the worst score of the day Saturday, a 10-over 82, and is in last place heading into the final round.
Bubba Watson is about to be replaced. The defending Masters champion made up some ground with a 2-under 70 on Saturday. But at nine strokes back, and with some big names in front of him, he knows his chances of winning a second straight green jacket are slim.
“I'd have to shoot a real low one tomorrow to have a chance,” Watson acknowledged. “But I'll come out tomorrow and just enjoy the walk as my last day as defending champ.”
ESPN gets boost
Almost nobody at Augusta National had a better day Friday than ESPN.
The network boasted its best ratings in the four years it has broadcast the second round, averaging 4.2 million viewers and a 3.3 rating. That was a 6 percent increase over last year and the fourth-largest audience ever to watch golf on cable.