Seattle native struggles with a 77

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Couples didn’t play great through the first 16 holes but was still hanging around the leaderboard at 3 under.

Sure, the 53-year-old Seattle native had a double bogey on the seventh hole for the second consecutive day, but he followed that up with a birdie at the eighth hole.

Again, a bogey at No. 9 was followed by a nice birdie on the tough 10th hole.

But the par-4 17th hole, unfortunately for him, was his undoing.

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He stumbled to a triple-bogey 7, shot a 77 and was tied for 18th going into the final round.

“It was just a comedy of bad shots,” Couples said. “I would think that put me out of the running for anything tomorrow.

“The rest of the holes weren’t all that great, either. … I was all over the place.”

Couples, the 1992 champion. has finished among the top 15 at the Masters every year since he turned 50.

Puyallup’s Ryan Moore had nine bogeys on his way to an 81. He’s tied for 56th at 8-over 224.

Aussies ready

to break drought

The Aussies have had enough of their oh-fer at Augusta National.

Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Jason Day are in the top five heading into the final round, giving the Australians perhaps their best chance at ending their excruciating drought at the club. The Masters remains the only major an Australian has never won.

“It’s hard to say exactly what it means. I’d rather not sit here and wonder so much, I’d rather do that if I win,” said Scott, a stroke behind leaders Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera. “But, look, Aussies are proud sporting people, and we’d love to put another notch in our belt, just like any great sporting country.

“This is one thing that one of us would like to do.”

It’s not as if the Australians haven’t had their chances.

Scott and Day were in the hunt two years ago, finishing second to Charl Schwartzel. And who can forget Greg Norman’s heartbreaks? Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine in 1986 to take the green jacket from him. The next year, Larry Mize chipped in from 140 feet during a playoff. In 1996, he had a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo, only to gag it with a 78.

“It’s a great opportunity for all of us to be the first,” Day said.

McIlroy struggles

Rory McIlroy is ranked No. 2 in the world and has two major titles under his belt.

But he hasn’t yet fully figured out Augusta National.

McIlroy entered the third round four shots out of the lead, but he stumbled to a 7-over-par 79 to enter the final round at 5 over.

“It’s disappointing, especially after such a good start,” said McIlroy, who birdied the third hole to get to 3 under. “I was only a few off the lead going into seventh hole, and then all of a sudden I play 7 through 11 in 5 over, and basically my chances in the tournament are gone.”

Mickelson too

Phil Mickelson likes to think he’s always in the hunt at Augusta National.

That won’t be the case this year in the final round.

Mickelson matched his worst Masters round ever with a 5-over 77.

“I just played terrible,” Mickelson said. “There’s no way around it. I’m just not hitting very good golf shots, missing it in bad spots and not really knowing which side I’m going to miss it on. So my play has been beyond terrible, and that’s certainly disappointing.”

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