Bubba Watson punctuated his course-record 9-under-par 63 with a hole-out eagle on Saturday and took a two-stroke lead over Paul Casey of England to the final round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club in New Providence, Bahamas.
Watson, who is No. 4 in the World Golf Rankings, holed his second shot from 169 yards for eagle on the fourth hole and added seven birdies to post a 54-hole score of 19-under 197.
“It was a good day,” said Watson, the 2012 and 2014 Masters champion. “The key for me around this golf course, I think for everybody, though, as we’re seeing, when there’s no wind, light wind, we can score. We’re all good players, don’t get me wrong. We’re all top 50 in the world. But with no wind, this golf course is a little bit easier to make birdies. Obviously 20‑mile an hour winds, this golf course becomes a beast.
” … So the key is just making your putts. You’re going to have to make 15-footers. The greens are pretty small, so if you hit the greens you have a chance. Today, you can look at some of my putts and if I didn’t make them, I shoot a 5-under again like I did the last couple days. When there’s conditions like this you have a chance to shoot low so it’s not really about if are you in the zone or anything. There’s still a couple wayward shots that I hit that I got away with, I made the par putts that kept me going, kept the round going.”
Casey also shot a bogey-free 63, recording six birdies on the front nine and three more on the first four holes of the back nine.
Patrick Reed chipped in for an eagle-3 on the 15th hole in a bogey-free 66 and was three shots behind in a tie for third with Chris Kirk, who also had a 66 that included a lone bogey at No. 9.
Top-ranked Jordan Spieth, who won the tournament last year by 10 strokes at Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Florida, recorded a 68 and was another stroke down in a tie for fifth with Bill Haas, who overcame two bogeys in his 68.
Brooks Koepka made three bogeys down the stretch and was five shots behind in solo seventh after a 65, while Rickie Fowler birdied the last four holes of the front nine en route to another 65 and was another stroke back in a tie for eighth with Adam Scott of Australia, who totaled 66, and Zach Johnson, who came in at 68.
The tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation and tournament host Tiger Woods, who can’t play in the event he has won five times because he is recovering from back surgery, toured the course in a golf cart to check out the play.