Tiger Woods one shot back at the Masters entering the weekend
10 Min Read
Written by Mike McAllister @PGATOUR_MikeMc
AUGUSTA, Ga. – In-between the long birdies and the fist pumps and the huge roars and the bubble gum-smacking and the 4-under 68 that moved him into contention for a fifth green jacket, Tiger Woods nearly had his whole day (season? career?) ruined Friday at Augusta National … by a sliding security guard.
It happened on the 14th hole, after Woods hit a terrific second shot from the trees that found its way onto the green. As Tiger walked back toward the fairway, the gallery was close behind, eager to offer their cheers and support. That’s when the security guard came running in to help hold back the crowd.
Instead, he slipped on the wet conditions and grazed Tiger’s right heel. Luckily, Tiger’s foot was in the air and not planted at the time. After Tiger grimaced while hopping out of the way, he then tested his right ankle to make sure there was no damage. There wasn’t, and Tiger was ready to shake off any concerns – although given his four surgeries on his knee and four more on his back, it’s probably not a stretch to treat him as Mr. Glass.
“'I’ve had galleries run over me,” Woods said. “When you play in front of a lot of people, things happen. … It’s all good.”
What was even better was Tiger bringing back the roars at Augusta National with a round that included six birdies. Four of those came on putts between 20 and 37 feet – including that 14th hole when he shook off the accident scare by rolling in a 28-footer.
That left him tied for sixth, just one shot off the lead. It’s his best 36-hole position at Augusta National since 2011, when he was third going into the weekend.
It was a day of Vintage Tiger, as he kept giving himself opportunities, hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation. Not even a few missed opportunities – and a rare bogey at the par-5 eighth after a 3-putt from 38 feet – could wipe the smile off his face as he walked off the 18th hole.
“I'm not too bummed out about it because I hit them on my lines,” Woods said of his missed birdie attempts. “So I can live with that. I can live with days when I'm hitting putts on my line and they just don't go in, that's the way it goes….
“I feel like I played my own way back into the tournament. I was just very patient today, felt very good to be out there doing what I was doing. This is now three straight majors that I've been in the mix and so it's good stuff.”
Last year at the Open Championship, Woods was the solo leader with nine holes left before giving way to Francesco Molinari. A month later, he was in the mix at the PGA Championship won by Brooks Koepka.
Now he’s at Augusta National, a place he’s already won at four times. The leaderboard is packed with former major winners – as well as three reigning champs in Koepka (U.S. Open too) and Molinari. It’s doubtful those guys will be easily disturbed by the Tiger-mania that has re-emerged here.
On the flip side, this week’s Tiger won’t be going away either … provided, of course, he continues to avoid sliding security guards.
ROUND 2 STATS: 7 of 14 fairways hit, 16 of 18 greens in regulation, 30 putts (1 3-putt)
18 (par 4, 465 yards): His 297-yard tee shot is properly placed, and his approach from 160 yards finishes 14 feet from the pin. But his birdie attempt loses steam drifts to the right, as he finishes with a par and a second-round score of 4-under 68 that leaves him tied for sixth. (Overall: 6 under)
17 (par 4, 440 yards): A 288-yard drive finds the fairway, leaving 163 yards to the pin. Tiger's approach is terrific, as he knocks it to 8 feet. But just when all the momentum was with him, Tiger misses the birdie putt and settles for par. (Overall: 6 under)
16 (par 3, 170 yards): Tiger's tee shot doesn't find the upper level, and he settles for a two-putt par from 39 feet. (Overall: 6 under)
15 (par 5, 530 yards): His 298-yard drive veers left into the rough, and he wedges it in the proper spot, 128 yards from the pin. His third shot into the green comes up 30 feet short of the pin. No worries -- he rolls in the birdie putt and again punches the air. (Overall: 6 under)
14 (par 4, 440 yards): In the rain, Tiger releases his hand off the club on his follow-through -- never a good sign. His 282-yard drive finds the rough among the trees. He finds an opening and hits a terrific recovery shot that finishes 28 feet away. As he walks back toward the fairway, a security guard, running to hold off the fans, slips and clips Tiger's right heel. Tiger grimaces, and tests the foot, but it doesn't look to be serious. His birdie putt is perfect, and Tiger punches the air as he moves into a tie for eighth. (Overall: 5 under)
13 (par 5, 510 yards): His 302-yard tee shot lands in the second cut on the right side. From 193 yards, his second shot settles on the fringe, about 45 feet away. A tough eagle putt finishes 13 feet away, and his birdie attempt needs one more roll. Par. (Overall: 4 under)
12 (par 3, 155 yards): A terrific tee shot to 5 feet ... followed by a disheartening birdie miss after play resumed following a brief weather stoppage. A wasted opportunity for Tiger as he taps in for par.(Overall: 4 under)
11 (par 4, 505 yards): A 307-yard drive finds the fairway. His second shot from 209 yards tracks the pin and finishes 13 feet away. Rolls in the birdie attempt. (Overall: 4 under)
10 (par 4, 495 yards): A 328-yard drive finishes on the right side of the fairway. The approach from 174 yards away finds the green, but unlike the previous hole, he can't get his 33-foot birdie putt to drop and settles for a tap-in par.(Overall: 3 under)
FRONT 9 STATS: 3 of 7 fairways hit, 7 of 9 greens in regulation, 15 putts (1 3-putt)
9 (par 4, 460 yards): His 305-yard drive splits the fairway, leaving him 165 yards to the pin. From there, he finds the middle of the green, with the pin tucked back left. He reads the 37-foot putt perfectly and gives it plenty of speed, the ball falling into the bottom of the cup. It's the second consecutive day he's finished off his front nine with a birdie. (Overall: 3 under)
8 (par 5, 570 yards): For the second time in three swings of the driver, Tiger finds the fairway bunker. Just like it did at the fifth hole, it forced him to just hit out ono the fairway, leaving him a third shot of 151 yards. He found the green, 38 feet from the pin, but from there, he three-putted, missing a par putt from 8 feet. The bogey is the 10th he has suffered at the eighth in 84 career rounds at the Masters. (Overall: 2 under)
7 (par 4, 450 yards): Tiger's 312-yard drive settles along the right edge of the fairway. His approach from 135 yards finds the green, pin-high, about 21 feet away. Two putts for par. (Overall: 3 under)
6 (par 3, 180 yards): His 8-iron finds back middle of the green and tries to move toward the pin. He'll have a 20-foot birdie putt. With a perfect read -- at least 4 feet of break -- he drains his second birdie putt at a par 3 in this round and is now tied for 13th. (Overall: 3 under)
5 (par 4, 495 yards): His 296-yard tee shot does the one thing you want to avoid doing at the fifth -- find the fairway bunker. His ball is in the first of the two deep bunkers, and forces him to lay up, 76 yards from the pin and near the crosswalk. His third travels past the pin, finishing 16 feet away. His par putt just misses left and he taps in for a bogey that was set up by the poor drive. (Overall: 2 under)
4 (par 3, 240 yards): His tee shot tracks the pin the entire way, finding the top slope where the pin is located, leaving him a 7-foot birdie putt. It falls in for his first birdie of the day and moves him into a tie for 10th. (Overall: 3 under)
3 (par 4, 350 yards): Terrific 308-yard drive leaves him just 34 yards to the pin. His pitch shot to the front right pin starts rolling away from the hole, leaving him 16 feet away. His birdie attempts dies to the right, and he taps in for par. (Overall: 2 under)
2 (par 5, 575 yards): Stays in the fairway this time, his 324-yard drive leaving him 249 yards from the pin and on a flat part of the fairway. Takes a step forward after his follow through on his second shot, as his ball finishes in the right greenside bunker. He blasts out 17 feet beyond the pin -- about 1 foot too far to catch the slope and slide back to the hole. Had to be careful with his downhill birdie attempt, and he does well to leave himself a 5-footer to save par.(Overall: 2 under)
1 (par 4, 445 yards): Not a great start, as Tiger's 292-yard tee shot drifts left into the trees, settling in the pine needles. He found an opening with his approach from 152 yards and it trickles just next to the green. His uphill putt comes up 8 feet short, bu)t he buries the par saver. Should be a confidence booster after he missed a few short putts on Thursday. (Overall: 2 under)
BACKING UP 70. Tiger Woods has opened with a 2-under 70 on five previous occasions at the Masters. The first three times, he followed with a round in the 60s -- and eventually went on to win (1997, 2001, 2002). In 2009, he followed his 70 with a 72 en route to a T-6 result, while in 2013, he shot 73 after his opening 70 and finished T-4.
LATE TEE TIME. There are 29 threesomes teeing off Friday, and Woods is in the 28th group with Jon Rahm and HaoTong Li at 1:49 p.m. ET. In Thursday's first round, 18-hole leaders Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka both played late and had favorable scoring conditions along the back nine. Woods is hoping to have a similar advantage Friday provided the wind dies.
"Sometimes what happens is you get that lull in the evening, the guys that go off real late, winds start dying down and you get probably a good six, seven holes where the wind is pretty benign," Woods said.
GOLF CHANNEL REVIEWS. Here's what the experts were saying after Tiger's opening 70:
“I saw a golf swing that was patient. It was rhythmic. When he gets that extra length and time for transition, he seems to swing and play better.” -- David Duval
“The rhythm never changed from 1 to 18. Which is something he’s worked extremely hard on. He was in control of his round.” -- Frank Nobilo
“The guys at the top are hitting on all cylinders. He’s fully confident with his golf swing. It’s just a matter of whether or not he can capitalize on the greens. Because whoever is going to win this tournament is going to have the week of their life on the greens. And thus far he struggled quite a bit today.” -- Brandel Chamblee