Masters Tournament - Bubba hangs on through calamities to share lead into finale

Bubba Watson endured a brutal day at Augusta National as 20-year-old Jordan Spieth came through to claim a share of the 54-hole lead going into the final day of The Masters.

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Masters Tournament - Bubba hangs on through calamities to share lead into finale
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Bubba Watson at Augusta

2012 champion Watson, three shots clear at the start of the day, mixed pars, bogeys, birdies and even an eagle in a topsy-turvy round, but retained a share of the lead alongside Masters debutant Spieth at five under par.

Swedish star Jonas Blixt and American Matt Kuchar are both one shot back going into Sunday's finale as the hard, bouncy conditions and fast greens made Augusta a tough challenge despite light winds and clear skies.

Watson started with a bogey, but seemed to have shaken off his nerves with an eagle on the second after a stunning 250-yard shot to three feet.

But his woes continued as he bogeyed the 4th, 6th and 7th holes to see his lead eradicated.

A birdie on 10 after a second shot to within two feet got him back on track, but time and again on the back nine he missed excellent chances to extend his lead – and a missed four-footer for par on the 16th saw him drop back into a share of the lead at -5, which is where he finished.

Spieth, who has been mentored this week by double Masters champion and fellow Texan Ben Crenshaw, played some brilliant golf at times as he shot a solid 70. Should he win, Spieth would be both the youngest ever champion – breaking Tiger Woods's record - and the first debutant winner since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

Kuchar is a shot back at -4 after a superb 68 that included three birdies in a row from the 13th but which ended with a bogey on the last, while Blixt shot a 71, his third consecutive round under par.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, one of the early leaders on Thursday, shot the best round of the week, a 66, to haul himself into contention at three under par, where he is alongside Rickie Fowler. Fowler's 67, which included an inward half of 33, was the second best round of the tournament so far.

One further shot behind is Lee Westwood, who birdied all four of the par-5s in his round of 71 after not having birdied a single par-5 in his opening two rounds.

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Westwood's score of 70 for a total of -2 could have been better but for a string of birdie putts which burned the edge of the hole – and the Englishman rued his bad luck on the greens after the round.

Yet he, Thomas Bjorn and Jim Furyk are all at -2 and remain firmly in the hunt as the travails of the players above meant that they are in easy striking distance should they get their putters going on Sunday.

Also still in the hunt are 54-year-old Fred Couples and England's US Open champion Justin Rose, both at -1, and both with experience of coming out on top of a back nine showdown on Sunday afternoon at a Major.

Then again, Watson also has that experience – and while his nerves showed in his putting and chipping, his brilliant tee to green play suggests a player in the sort of form that could make him the ninth man to win a second Green Jacket exactly two years after claiming his first.

Scores after round three:

T1 Jordan Spieth -5

T1 Bubba Watson -5

T3 Jonas Blixt -4

T3 Matt Kuchar -4

T5 Rickie Fowler -3

T5 Miguel-Angel Jimenez -3

T7 Thomas Bjorn -2

T7 Jim Furyk -2

T7 Lee Westwood -2

T10 Fred Couples -1

T10 Justin Rose -1

T10 John Senden -1

T10 Kevin Stadler -1

T14 Ian Poulter E

T14 Gary Woodland E

T16 Adam Scott 1

T16 Kevin Streelman 1

T18 Jason Day 2

T18 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 2

T18 Russell Henley 2

T18 Chris Kirk 2

T18 Steve Stricker 2

T18 Jimmy Walker 2

T24 Jamie Donaldson 3

T24 Bernhard Langer 3

T24 Rory McIlroy 3

T24 Louis Oosthuizen 3

T24 Henrik Stenson 3

T29 Steven Bowditch 4

T29 Bill Haas 4

T29 Martin Kaymer 4

T29 Hunter Mahan 4

T29 Vijay Singh 4

T34 Stewart Cink 5

T34 Darren Clarke 5

T34 Lucas Glover 5

T34 Jose-Maria Olazabal 5

T38 Brendon DeJonge 6

T38 Billy Horschel 6

T38 Thongchai Jaidee 6

T38 Thorbjorn Olesen 6

T42 K.J. Choi 7

T42 Oliver Goss 7

T42 Francesco Molinari 7

T42 Nick Watney 7

T46 Stephen Gallacher 8

T46 Sandy Lyle 8

T46 Brandt Snedeker 8

T46 Mike Weir 8

T50 Joost Luiten 9

T50 Larry Mize 9

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