Watson stays on top at Phoenix Open

 

The Sports Network

Scottsdale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Bubba Watson carded a 3-under 68 on Saturday to maintain the lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Watson, who has held at least a share of the lead since the first round, finished 54 holes on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale at 15-under-par 198. The four-time winner on the PGA Tour is seeking his first victory since the 2012 Masters.

"I got one more tough day, but what I'm seeing is building for the future," Watson said in a televised interview. "It's coming together pretty good. I know that I can make some creative shots under pressure."

Kevin Stadler (67) is alone in second place at 13-under, while Ryan Moore fired a 7-under 64 during his third round to jump into a share of third with Harris English (69) and Hideki Matsuyama (68) at 12-under 201.

Brendan Steele posted the low round of the tournament with a 9-under 62 to move into a tie for sixth place with Hunter Mahan (65) and Matt Jones (72) at 11-under 202.

Watson and Jones entered the third round tied for the lead at 12-under, and English converted a 15-foot eagle putt at the third to make it a three-way tie atop the leaderboard.

After Jones and Watson each birdied the third to move to 13-under, Jones 3- putted for bogey at the fourth to hand the outright lead to Watson.

Watson would then roll in a 7-foot birdie putt at the sixth to move to 14- under, and he was handed a 3-stroke lead when English bogeyed the fifth and Jones found bunkers with each of his first two shots at the sixth en route to a bogey to each fall to minus-11.

Watson picked up another shot at the eighth to move to 15-under, but English answered with a birdie at the ninth to stay within three shots of the lead.

Watson then failed to get up and down for par from a greenside bunker at the 10th to drop to minus-14.

English would eventually be joined at 12-under by Perez and Moore before English rolled in a birdie putt from just off the green at the 15th to pull within a shot of Watson at 13-under.

Stadler, who had countered a birdie at the ninth with bogeys at the seventh and 11th, closed his round with five birdies over his final six holes to vault into a share of second place with English at 13-under. English later bogeyed the 18th to finish two shots off the pace.

Watson, meanwhile, snapped a streak of six straight pars from the 11th with an 11-foot birdie putt at the 17th to reclaim his 2-stroke lead. He closed with a par at the last to remain there.

"It was a struggle down the back nine, but I held it together, made some key putts and some key up and downs," stated Watson. "I held it together. That's the part I like."

NOTES: The second round was completed Saturday morning following the tournament's second straight suspension for darkness on Friday ... Watson has yet to post a round over par in 29 career rounds at TPC Scottsdale ... Watson has two career top-10 finishes at this tournament, a tie for fifth in 2012 and a share of eighth in 2007 ... A PGA Tour record 189,722 fans attended Saturday's round ... Stadler is seeking his first career win on the PGA Tour.

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