CROMWELL, Connecticut: Bubba Watson, winless since taking last year’s Masters, struggled to a level par 70 Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to fall into a three-way tie for the lead at the $6.1 million US PGA Travelers Championship.
Watson, the 2010 Travelers champion and last year’s runner-up, finished 54 holes on 10-under par 200 to stand level with Canada’s Graham DeLaet, who fired the day’s low round of 65, and fellow American Charley Hoffman, who shot a 66.
“I hit some shots that were really good, some quality shots. I got a couple bad breaks too, but that’s golf,” Watson said. “I still have a shot on Sunday and that’s what we’re looking for when we’re playing.”
Australian Nick O’Hern and American Chris Stroud were one stroke off the pace with American Ken Duke on 202 and seven others, including new US Open champion Justin Rose of England, on 203.
Watson started strong, dropping a 93-yard approach shot inches from the cup for a birdie at the second hole and sinking a 32-foot putt from just off the green for a birdie at the third. He added another birdie at the par-5 sixth.
But Watson struggled on the back nine with bogeys at the par-5 13th and par-4 15th.
At the par-4 17th, Watson was bothered on the tee by spectator conversation and found a bunker. His second shot hooked just over a water hazard, hit a rake and landed in a greenside bunker. His third shot was just off the green and he came up short on an 18-foot par putt.
Asked how he would handle squandering sole possession of the lead, Watson said: “I take it with pleasure. I’ve got a chance to win.”
DeLaet birdied the par-4 second and began the back nine with four birdies in a row, the last at the par-5 13th after dropping his approach six feet from the pin. DeLaet also answered a bogey at the par-3 16th by closing with a 15-foot birdie putt at the 18th.
Hoffman opened the front and back nine with birdies and added others at the fourth, sixth and 14th holes. His lone bogey came at the par-4 12th.