Boyette: Late drama becoming hallmark of the 83rd Masters
Those patrons who left Augusta National early Friday missed out on the “late show” for the second day in a row.
There was Tiger Woods making birdies.
There was a security guard who nearly took out the four-time Masters champion.
And, at the end of the day, there was Tiger near the top of the leaderboard.
No offense to Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen, but the 83rd Masters just got a whole lot more interesting.
Augusta National laid down its defenses late Thursday afternoon, and the afternoon wave took advantage. Woods and Co. did the same Friday after the horn sounded at 5:05 p.m. and they were held in position for a weather delay. Twenty-nine minutes later, the golfers resumed play and the real show began. Molinari, Day and Koepka all had finished at 7-under and were presumably at their rental homes by then.
Scott made an eagle at No. 15 to become the first player this week to reach 8-under, then he gave it back when he missed a short one at the 16th.
Oosthuizen added birdies at Nos. 13 and 15 to grab a piece of the lead, keeping it with a nifty sand save from a fried egg lie at the 18th.
The five co-leaders all are major champions. Lurking one shot behind are Woods, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and first-timer Justin Harding. There are 15 players within three shots of the lead, including Augusta native Charles Howell.
Phil Mickelson, who played his 100th round at the Masters on Friday, is also among those three back.
“Sets up for one riveting weekend,” CBS’ Jim Nantz said. “Not just one name. All of them.”
Woods, though, transcends them all.
The most bizarre moment of the late afternoon occurred on the 14th hole. Jon Rahm and Woods each hit it left into the pines, and a sizable gallery gathered to watch. After Rahm punched out short and right, Woods hit a low draw that whistled through the trees and settled on the green.
Woods went to his right to watch the shot, but a security guard almost ended his Masters. In his haste to keep the patrons away, he slipped on the muddy turf and slid into Woods’ right ankle.
That caused the 80-time PGA Tour winner and 14-time major champion to hop around for a few seconds on one leg.
Twitter almost melted down – there were one-liners and GIFs galore – and, of course, Woods validated the whole incident by draining the 28-foot birdie putt.
He made another long one at the 15th, prompting one suggestion that the unnamed security guard should tag along with Woods on every hole.
“Accidents happen,” Woods said. “I’ve had galleries run over me. When you play in front of a lot of people, things happen.”
On ESPN after the round, Woods didn’t seem fazed by the incident.
“Yeah, other than having four knee surgeries and four back surgeries, I’m doing great,” he quipped.
Saturdays are “moving day” in golf, and this one should be fascinating to see unfold. Woods is tied for sixth, one shot behind the quintet of leaders, and hasn’t been this high on the Masters leaderboard going into the weekend since 2011.
“Quality of the field just means the scoring’s just going to get lower and lower,” CBS analyst Nick Faldo said. “I wouldn’t call it moving day. I’d call it shuffling day.”
A balky putter for Woods kept him from having the solo lead. He missed good looks at Nos. 12, 13, 17 and 18 after play resumed. Still, he smiled as he walked off the 18th.
Tiger teased us last summer with his play at the British Open and the PGA Championship. He’s been winless in the majors since 2008, and winless in Augusta since 2005. A victory this week would renew his quest to catch Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 majors.
“This is now three straight majors that I’ve been in the mix, and so it’s good stuff,” Woods said.
Word of advice: If you’re lucky enough to have a badge today, stick around to the end. This Masters won’t disappoint.