Bubba Watson cruised around the Amen Corner and more in a manner resembling a Formula One driver with a streak of birdies not just over the dreaded three-hole stretch but from the 12th to the 16th to open up a commanding four-shot lead in the second round of the Augusta Masters on Friday. The 2012 champion conjured up the magical run and moved to five-under for the day and eight-under for the tournament, as overnight leader Bill Haas stayed at four-under through five holes after a bogey-birdie start.
After 26 flawless holes, Bubba, second overnight in the company of Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott, finally dropped a bogey on the ninth. But he came roaring back as he hit his tee shot on the difficult 12th hole to within a few feet for a birdie to get to four-under. He reached the green in two on par-5 13th, missed the 15-footer for eagle but the birdie was a tap-in. The streak continued on the 14th, 15th and 16th and suddenly Watson was miles ahead at eight-under. The streak ended on the 17th and, on the 18th, his second shot went off the green and into the edge of the crowd. He used the slope nicely to give himself a chance to get a par, but the five-footer slid past for a bogey finish. His 68 meant he was now seven-under, but three clear of the field, which had yet to finish.
Three other players, only one of whom, Thomas Bjorn (68) had finished were at three-under for the tournament. That group included Asian super star KJ Choi, who opened birdie-birdie to get to four-under only to drop a shot on fourth.
Defending champion Scott had played three holes and dropped a shot on the first. Kevin Stadler got to four-under but gave back a double bogey on 11th to fall to 11-under, as the Augusta National Golf Club extracted the severest of prices for even the smallest of indiscretions.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open winner and runner-up to Bubba in 2012, learnt it the hard way. He negotiated the Amen Corner without a mishap. On the 13th, he drilled his second shot into the par-5 to within a few feet for an eagle to move to four-under.
On the par-5 15th, the third-easiest hole on the course so far, Oosthuizen came unstuck. He hit his second shot to the backside of the green, leaving a tricky chip, which failed to stay on the green and went all the way off and into the water. His bogey putt was shot and his double bogey putt went past the hole and he ended with a snowman eight for a triple bogey. He also bogeyed the last for a 75 and was now even for the tournament.
LEADERBOARD (ROUND 2)
-7: Bubba Watson (USA) 69, 68
-4: John Senden (AUS) 72, 68
-3: Adam Scott (AUS) 69, 72; Thomas Bjorn (DEN) 73, 68; Jordan Spieth (USA) 71, 70; Jonas Blixt (SWE) 70, 71
+4: Rory McIlroy (NIR) 71, 77
Missed the cut
+5: Phil Mickelson (USA) 76, 73