AUGUSTA, Ga. - Seattle native Fred Couples had a "thrill-seeking Saturday" in mind after he entered the third day of the Masters tied for seventh, just five shots out of the lead.
But on moving day, Couples and Puyallup’s Ryan Moore were essentially stuck in place as each shot an even-par 72.
Couples enters the final round tied for ninth at 5-under-par 211, seven shots off Rory McIlroy’s lead but just three shots out of second place. Moore is tied for 30th at 1 under.
Couples, 51, bogeyed the first hole, then made a double bogey on the par-5 eighth, one of the easiest holes on the course. That derailed his day, although he made birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to get back to the fringe of contention.
He was happy with his play, except for the eighth hole.
“I made one bad shot, one poor judgment on the eighth hole,” said Couples, who was given a standing ovation on the 18th hole. “I really haven’t tried a tricky shot all week, and I drove it up there a mile. I saw where the pin was and I knew you had to get it past the hole, and I tried to hit a low, hooking wood up there, and I can barely hit a straight wood shot. I pulled it into the junk, and it was a comedy of errors after that.
“After that, I hung in there and made some birdies to at least stay close to everybody, and with a great round (Sunday), who knows. Whoever on the leaderboard can shoot a 6 or 7 under tomorrow will have a great shot at winning.”
It was a frustrating day for Moore, who missed putt after putt by an inch or two. He said his score could have been — and probably should have been — in the 60s.
“It definitely gets old,” Moore said. “It was just one of those days. I would have the right speed or the right line and just couldn’t get the two to ever line up. On these greens you have to match them perfectly or you will not make your putt.”
The final four holes of the day were symbolic of Moore’s round.
He reached the par-5 15th green in two shots, but three-putted from about 60 feet, just missing his second putt from about 9 feet. He left a birdie putt on 16 short by about an inch, missed by about an inch for a birdie on No. 17, and just missed about an 8-foot putt for a par on the 18th.
“I didn’t capitalize on my opportunities,” Moore said. “I killed any momentum on 15. It certainly wasn’t an easy two-putt, but it wasn’t that difficult.”
Moore is seemingly out of contention, but doesn’t lack motivation. He wants to get into the top 16, which would earn him an automatic berth next year. Couples is exempt for life having won the event in 1992.
“You see each day, there is a 6, 7 or 8 under out there, and that goes a long way at this golf tournament,” Moore said. “I am going to do everything I can ... to keep climbing up the board.”