By the time he made the turn in front of the historic clubhouse and that big oak tree, the edge was gone. He got it back with a birdie at the 10th, but a three-putt par at the par-5 13th kept things close, another par at the par-5 15th was a disappointment, and a bogey at the 16th left him staggering to the finish.
It shaped up to be a wide-open Sunday with Woods on the sideline for the first time in his career, recovering from back surgery.
Lee Westwood (70), Jim Furyk (72) and Thomas Bjorn (73) were all in the mix. And Couples did enough to hang around, managing a 73 that kept him within five strokes of the lead.
Watson bogeyed the first hole, then struck a brilliant approach shot that rolled up about 5 feet from the flag to set up an eagle 3 at the second. That would be one of his few highlights.
Jimenez posted the best round of the tournament thus far and matched the lowest score ever for a senior golfer at Augusta National. Ben Hogan was 54 when he shot 66 during the third round of the 1967 tournament, and Couples matched it at age 50 during the opening round in 2010.
The Spaniard known as “The Mechanic” finished up with a par at the 18th about the time Watson was teeing off at the adjacent first hole, having sliced into a 10-shot deficit by taking advantage of warm, sunny conditions. There was barely a hint of the swirling breezes that can make Augusta so treacherous.
Jimenez has never won a major championship but he’s been a perennial contender, capturing a new generation of fans with his unique stretching routine before each round, his red ponytail, and his fondness for wine and cigars.
“Just because you are 50 does not mean you cannot play golf,” said Jimenez, one of six 50-and-older golfers to make the Masters cut. “I’m still flexible. I hit the ball longer than ever.”