AUGUSTA - Adam Scott was the perfect candidate. This was the scripted April.

The unassuming Aussie has the game, the temperament and something else.

"There's no doubt," Scott said going into Saturday's third round, "I'm a much more patient player the last few years."

Better yet, this Masters tournament came without two of the most intimidating Augusta National obstructions: The Eisenhower Tree and Tiger Woods.

But Scott on Saturday battered his chances of becoming only the fourth repeat Masters champion.

Kicked them to the curb of Washington Road.

The 2013 winner dropped out of sight with a 76. At 1-over-par Scott is six shots off the lead with 15 guys to leap-frog.

It happens every April, nearly.

A repeat candidate emerges, claims confidence, fizzles.

The three back-to-back Masters winners, their legacies still all but safe in the clubhouse:

Jack Nicklaus (1965-1966)

Nick Faldo (1989-1990)

Tiger Woods (2001-2002)

In theory, Scott, 33, could go on a birdie/eagle tear Sunday and sneak into the lead.

But first he has to climb over the likes of co-leaders Bubba Watson, the 2012 champion, and Jordan Spieth, a 20-year-old Texan who already has Presidents Cup experience.

Spieth shot a 62 while playing with Mickelson last September at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Watson knows how hard it is to repeat at Augusta.

Double-bogey day

"You're asked all these questions," Watson said. "'Can you defend? How are you going to play? How are you going to do this?' You have to give up the green jacket. You have to give it back to them, so there's a lot of things going on, media attention if you're the defending champion."

It gets hot under the collar out there, even on a perfect Saturday with a cool breeze. Scott and his putter stumbled with a double-bogey on the fourth hole, a par 3.

"It's not the end of the world," Scott said Sunday. "There are a lot of people between me and the leaders. But if I can play a good front nine, anything can happen on the back."

Could be worse.

Watson explained his 50th-place finish in 2013, blaming a non-alcoholic "hangover" that came with sudden glory. All while trying to balance a blossoming marriage and "learning how to become a family man."

Watson asked a reporter, "How many green jackets you got? If you had one, you would celebrate it for a year or two?"

Sure, and so would most golfers.

"I just think it's a tough tournament to win, because you have such great players, such great competition," said Phil Mickelson, who won the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010. "And the course does play different year-to-year."

That's the big thing. Bobby Jones built a golf tournament that demanded resourceful play. Long before television, Augusta encouraged dramatic second shots and creative putting.

Co-founder Clifford Roberts kept up the beat of constant, torturous course changes that continue 37 years after his death. Roberts in 1966 plugged in a pair of bunkers in the 18th fairway - precisely where players were targeting their drives.

Augusta National has been flipped, stretched, redesigned, replanted, "Tiger proofed" and tweaked some more.

Bubba's theory

But it's not just this former Georgia nursery. Repeating in any major is heavy lifting. Since the first Masters in 1934, there have been three repeat winners at the U.S. Open, seven at the British Open and three at the PGA Championship. Woods went back-to-back once at the British (2005-2006) and twice at the PGA 1999-2000 and 2006-2007).

Watson knows.

Just a few months removed from his left-handed magic at Augusta, Watson was the toast of the 2012 PGA Championship on Kiawah Island. The line for a Bubba autograph session inside the main Ocean Course concession tent was out the door.

Just another day in the life of a defending Masters champ.

"Yellow (Masters) flags. I've seen enough of those," Watson said this week. "I really don't want to sign too many more of those yellow flags. I think I've signed every single one since 2012."

But this much is guaranteed. Adam Scott will be around Augusta National very late Sunday.

To slip a green jacket onto someone else.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff