- The Augusta Chronicle - Saturday, April 12, 2014

AUGUSTA, GA. — Jordan Spieth has lived up to his billing as the next big thing in golf all week long. Now the 20-year-old Texan has the opportunity to become the youngest Masters Tour­na­ment champion – and the first player in 35 years to win in his first start at Augusta National Golf Club.

Spieth, ranked 13th, is tied for the lead with No. 12 Bubba Wat­son, who is 15 years his senior and who won the Masters two years ago. Spieth shot 2-under-par 70 Saturday, and Watson had 74.

“So far, so good,” said Spieth, who called Augusta National “heaven on earth” when he saw it for the first time in October. “This is the position I want to be in.”

He’ll have to beat Watson and a host of challengers.

“Sunday’s a big deal because that’s the day they give out the green jacket,” Watson said.

Watson and Spieth are friends, and both attend the PGA Tour’s weekly Bible study.

“We’re all trying to win the same trophy,” Watson said. “We are all trying to do the same thing. We are all going to be nervous, and we all know what it means to our career, for our status, to move forward in the game. So it’s going to be tough for everybody, not just guys that have never won one.

“I’ve won one, so I’ve got that going for me, but if I play bad tomorrow, I still have a green jacket, so that’s the positive I have to go for.”

With Tiger Woods out with back surgery and Phil Mickelson missing the cut, it was supposed to be a wide-open Masters weekend, and that’s exactly what it has turned into.

Thirteen players, including 54-year-old Fred Couples, are within four shots of the lead. Cou­ples, the winner in 1992, is trying to become the oldest Masters champ.

Spieth and Watson are at 5-under 211, the highest 54-hole leading score since 2006, when 212 led. Watson attributed it in part to greens that “really firmed up, were a lot faster, a lot harder than what we are used to the day before.”

Watson and Spieth will go off in the final pairing at 2:40 p.m. Sunday. Spieth, who trailed Wat­son by four shots after 36 holes, predicted the pairing.

“We joked about it on the range today when they (Spieth and his caddie) were going to the tee,” Watson said. “They said, ‘We’ll see you in the last group on Sunday.’ And I was like, ‘You’d better play good.’ But obviously, I should have played a little bit better.”

The last time a Masters rookie was in the last group of the final round was 1995, when Brian Hen­nin­ger shot 76 and tied for 10th place. Watson doesn’t think that will happen with Spieth.

“He’s young, nerves are no big deal to him,” Watson said. “It will be good. He’s a great player, obviously. A guy like that, he obviously has no fear.”

Story Continues →