Berliner Tageblatt - Homa matches DeChambeau for Masters lead as Tiger struggles

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Homa matches DeChambeau for Masters lead as Tiger struggles
Homa matches DeChambeau for Masters lead as Tiger struggles / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Homa matches DeChambeau for Masters lead as Tiger struggles

Two early second-round birdies moved Max Homa into a share of the Masters lead with Bryson DeChambeau on Friday while Tiger Woods struggled through a difficult 23-hole walk in pursuit of history.

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DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open winner, and Homa were both on seven-under par on the front nine early in the second round at Augusta National.

DeChambeau fired a seven-under par 65 in round one to lead top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the 2022 Masters champion, by a stroke after 18 holes.

Homa, among 27 players unable to finish round one Thursday due to a storm delay, sank a nine-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th then dropped his approach inches from the hole at 17 and tapped in for birdie before a closing bogey left him with a first-round 67.

After breaking 70 for the first time in 13 Masters rounds, Homa birdied the par-5 second and rolled in a 36-foot birdie putt at the par-3 fourth to match DeChambeau atop the leaderboard.

DeChambeau parred to begin his second round.

Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard and Americans Cameron Young and Taylor Moore shared fourth on 4-under.

Woods, a 15-time major winner who has struggled to walk courses since a 2021 car crash, has made 23 consecutive Masters cuts to share the record with Gary Player and Fred Couples, but would grab the mark all to himself by finishing in the low 50 or level for 36 holes.

A Thursday rain delay allowed Woods to complete only 13 holes on day one, setting the stage for a dramatic 23-hole stroll Friday across hilly Augusta National.

The 48-year-old US legend is playing his first major since right ankle fusion surgery last April due to injuries from the accident.

That also makes this the toughest test of his surgically repaired legs and back, with emotion crackling as fans cheered Woods on the layout where he has won five green jackets, including his first major in 1997 and most recent major in 2019.

After going one-under par for 13 holes on Thursday, Woods made bogey at the par-4 14th after coming up short of the green in two.

Woods found a greenside bunker at 18 and missed a 13-foot par putt for a closing first-round bogey and a first-round 73.

In round two, Woods sank a nine-foot birdie putt at the third, but missed the green and a six-foot par putt at the par-3 fourth, then found a fairway bunker at the fifth on the way to another bogey that left him on the projected 2-over cut line.

Woods answered with a hole-out from 27 feet for birdie at the par-3 sixth in what could be a day-long dance with the cut line.

- 'It's tough out there' -

Hojgaard, among 20 players making their first Masters start, was 5-under through 15 holes Thursday and closed with three routine pars.

"You've got to adapt," Hojgaard said. "You have to hit the shots. It's tough out there. It's going to be a grind. It's going to be a long day."

No Masters rookie has won the green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.

Scheffler, who could join Woods as the only players to win the Masters twice while atop the rankings, tees off in the afternoon's penultimate group alongside four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele.

McIlroy, whose most recent major win came in 2014, needs a Masters triumph to complete a career grand slam, a feat achieved only by Woods, Player, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.

McIlroy fired a 71, his best opening round at the Masters since 2018, while Schauffele, chasing his first major crown, began on 72.