Watson (2012 and ’14), Adam Scott (’13) and Charl Schwartzel (’11) have all reigned at Augusta, and are winning chances in Dublin, Ohio through three rounds.
Big-hitter Watson made it consecutive three-under 69s to move to 12 under overall at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Another American is hot on his heels, in the form of Scott Langley, who is aiming for a maiden PGA Tour title after moving to 11 under overall on the back of a five-under 67.
A shot further back is Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama on 10 under, after his 69 saw him climb to third, one clear of Australia’s Scott – who produced a four-under 68 to threaten to make it two wins in as many weeks after his Crowne Plaza Invitational victory.
Tied for fifth on eight-under overall is South Africa’s Schwartzel, who sits four shots behind leader Watson after a round of 67.
Going stroke for stroke with Schwartzel was American youngster Jordan Spieth, whose consistent 2014 season continued with a 67 on Saturday.
Spieth is another Masters performer who is contending in Ohio, after the 20-year-old finished tied for second at Augusta behind Watson on debut.
Also on eight under are Americans Billy Horschel, Robert Streb and Brendon Todd alongside Englishman Paul Casey.
Ben Martin rocketed to the fringe of the top-10 on the back of a round-best seven-under 65.
Martin is tied for 11th with fellow Americans Andrew Svoboda and Ben Curtis, who are seven-under overall, a shot clear of a group including Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
Defending champion Matt Kuchar continued his recovery from his opening-round 74, carding consecutive 69s to sit tied for 31st on four under overall.
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