Tiger Woods is ‘very proud’ of where his game is at as he makes his return at the Masters.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – If this were only some other Masters, if it were a more conventional year, then Tiger Woods’ reshaped game would have to be taken more seriously here this weekend at Augusta National. Woods improved notably again Friday with a three-under 69, giving him a two-round score of 140 at two-under.
There were undeniable throwback moments of mastery and near genius. Tiger was brave enough to swing full throttle on his drives and was solid enough around the greens. He ad-libbed under branches and off the pine straw when required. He buried some lengthy putts. Woods easily made the cut, a feat that was not guaranteed after his layoff and recent travails. He hadn’t shot a round in the 60s here since 2011.
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“Very proud of what I’ve done, to be able to dig it out the way I have,” Woods said, when he was done. “I was at a pretty low point in my career, but to basically change an entire pattern like that and put it together and put it in a position where I can compete in a major championship like this is something I’m very proud.”
But Woods didn’t have the luxury of merely competing on Friday, with the rocket ship soaring above him on the leaderboard. Jordan Spieth bounded too far ahead at 14-under, five strokes ahead of the field and a dozen strokes ahead of Tiger. Every time Woods birdied a hole, it seemed, Spieth would answer up ahead on the course with two of his own.
“I was watching, of course,” Woods said, about the leaderboard. “I think you had to pay attention to it because, one, it’s indicative of what the golf course is giving up.”
Woods pointed out that even back in 1997, when he dominated the Masters, he didn’t have the same separation from the field now enjoyed by Spieth. Still, for those seeking cause to believe in the future Tiger, there was ample reason for hope during the second round. Tiger birdied the first hole, slamming an 8 iron close enough to the pin; this, on the same hole he bogeyed on Thursday. He picked up some momentum with three birdies over five holes, including a clutch 15-foot putt at No. 11.
From then on, Woods did a lot of scrambling to rescue pars. He walked up the fairway to the 18th green and received a standing ovation. There, he faced one last 15-foot putt for a possible birdie, but slid it right and long.
Tiger Woods hits out of the rough off the 13th hole during the second round of the Masters.
Woods was clearly pleased, relieved. His tip of the hat to the gallery was not conciliatory. He gets to play two more rounds at this tournament and it wouldn’t take much for Tiger to finish top six again, where he’s landed so many years since his last green jacket a decade ago.
First place, though, is somewhat out of the question – though Woods would not admit that, because it would break the Tiger code.
“I’m still right there,” he insisted. “I’m 12 back, but there’s not a lot of guys ahead of me. And with 36 holes here to go, anything can happen, you know. We have a long way to go. We don’t know what the conditions are going to be tomorrow, what the committee is going to do.”
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