April 10, 2015

Tiger turns in strong second round at the Masters

For the first time since the final round in 2011, Tiger Woods broke 70 on Friday in the second day of the 79th Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The four-time champion shot a 3-under 69 and has a two-day score of 2-under 142.

“It was a solid day,” Woods said. “I gave myself plenty of good looks out there. Again, I struggled with the pace of it being a little slower than I thought it would be. But overall, I made some good par putts to keep my round together.”

Although Tiger competed in only his third PGA Tour event of the season and first since Feb. 5, he was tied for 19th and trails leader Jordan Spieth by 12 strokes, Tiger will be around for the weekend and has earned two more rounds to try and close the gap on one of the game’s budding young stars.

“Very proud of what I’ve done, to be able to dig it out the way I have,” Woods said. “I was at a pretty low moment in my career.”

Woods played a nine-hole practice round with the 21-year-old Texan and former Masters winner Ben Crenshaw on Wednesday morning.

“He’s played beautifully,” Tiger said.

 Woods was quick to point out that there is plenty of golf left, especially if the course and greens firm up.

“Anything can happen here,” he said. “You can play well and shoot over par.”

After three-putting the par-4 first hole on Thursday, Tiger extracted a measure of revenge by making birdie on Friday. Paired with Jamie Donaldson of Wales and Jimmy Walker on another warm, sunny day, Woods split the fairway with his opening tee shot, then knocked a 7-iron about seven feet behind the hole and buried the putt.

“I figured if I beat it, I could get it to the flag,” Tiger said of his approach shot.

Following two-putt pars at the second and third holes, Woods came up well short of the green with his tee shot at the long, downhill par-3 fourth. Faced with a delicate pitch over a bunker and little green to work with, Tiger executed it perfectly, the ball stopping two feet from the cup for a nice par-save.

Woods just missed a nine-foot birdie attempt at the par-4 fifth, then made his lone bogey of the day at the downhill par-3 sixth. His tee shot carried through the green, and his dicey chip failed to reach the putting surface. Tiger regrouped, pitched to three feet and salvaged bogey.

At the uphill par-4 seventh, Woods hit a good drive and his approach shot wound up about 27 feet below the hole, leaving a severe right-to-left break. Tiger drained it.

“That was a hard one,” he said. “I almost had to throw it up into the fringe.”

For the second-consecutive day, Woods birdied the uphill par-5 eighth hole. Tiger hit a 5-wood for his second shot that left a short, straight-forward chip and got it up-and-down.

Woods parred the ninth hole, two-putting from about 30 feet, to make the turn in 2-under 34.

On the back nine, Tiger parred the 10th hole, then birdied the difficult par-4 11th, where he hit a nice approach below the cup and converted the uphill, right-to-left putt. Woods two-putted the 12th and 13th holes for pars, a poor drive into the trees and pine straw on the right forcing him to lay up on the par-5 latter hole. But he made another good save at the par-4 14th, coming up short of the green with his approach and holing an eight-foot putt for par.

Woods was unable to birdie the par-5 15th, where he pounded a good drive and hit his second shot over the green. Again, he faced a delicate downhill chip and ran it 20 feet past the pin, two-putting for a par.

At the par-3 16th, Tiger missed the green to the right, but hit another good chip shot to about a foot to escape with a par. He also dug deep for another par at the par-4 17th, where he blocked his drive to the right, lofted his second shot over trees and found the front portion of the green. Woods was left with a 70-foot uphill putt and got a little frisky, running his birdie try eight feet past, but rolled it in, pumping his fist.

Tiger finished strong with a good drive and approach shot to the uphill par-4 18th, where par is always a good score. His approach finished 20 feet left of the cup, and he was accorded a standing ovation by the appreciative patrons as he reached the green, removing his hat to acknowledge them. Woods didn’t trust his read and missed his birdie attempt on the right side.

On the day, Tiger hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation .

“Those were big putts on 14 and 17 just to keep my round going,” Tiger said.

Woods’ goal on the weekend is to keep progressing.

“I’m only 12 back,” he said. “And with 36 holes to go, anything can happen.”

Tiger tees off Saturday at 1:15 p.m. ET with Sergio Garcia.