Tiger Woods finds that familiar Friday feeling at Masters
His momentum fading with the Friday daylight, Tiger Woods ignited the Augusta National patrons in a strange yet familiar place, buried deep in the trees left of the 14th fairway.
For the second day in a row, Woods found a window in those pines. He laced a punch shot from 167 yards out between the needles and onto the green, carrying the left corner by a yard.
The four-time Masters champion sank the curling 28-foot putt for an improbable birdie, added another at 15 and wrapped a 4-under-par 68 to enter the weekend one shot shy of the Masters Tournament leaders.
“Felt like I played my way back into the tournament,” Woods said. “I was very patient today, felt very good to be out there doing what I was doing. This is now three straight majors I’ve been in the mix, so it’s good stuff.”
Woods watched playing partner Haotong Li’s putt on a similar left-to-right line and adjusted his read to play more break. As the ball dropped in the left side of the cup, he punched the air and received a mighty roar.
“I had a window if I hit it low,” Woods said. “I was literally just trying to hit the ball short. If it happened to skip up, great, but make sure I keep it on the flag side, don’t let it go down to the right. If I keep it on the flag side I have an easy pitch. It came out perfect to fruition.”
The birdie helped Woods rinse away the taste from short missed birdie putts on the previous two holes as a 29-minute rain delay started after Woods stuck his tee shot on No. 12 to five feet. When play resumed, he missed the birdie putt then failed to birdie the par-5 13th, squandering a perfect drive that left him a 6-iron approach.
It was a wild day on the greens for Woods, who won his 14th major in 2008 and hasn’t slipped into a green jacket in more than a decade. He missed the two short ones on the back and made a mess of No. 8, 3-putting from 44 feet. But he had the touch from distance, burying birdie putts from 20 feet at No. 6, 37 feet at No. 9 and, after another hooked drive forced a layup on No. 15, a 30-footer up the ridge which sent another jolt through the pines.
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“I missed a few putts out there but I’m not too bummed out about it because I hit all my lines,” Woods said. “I can live with that. I can live with days that I’m hitting putts on my line and they don’t go in. That’s the way it goes. If I keep hitting putts on my line they’ll start dropping.”
Woods tees off with Ian Poulter at 2:05 Saturday in the fifth-to-last pairing.
He’s part of a crowded leaderboard filled with major champions and regular contenders. Woods is in that mix thanks to a nifty escape and an old putter that behaved in familiar ways.