Berliner Tageblatt - Tiger grinds to more Masters history as US stars fight for lead

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Tiger grinds to more Masters history as US stars fight for lead
Tiger grinds to more Masters history as US stars fight for lead / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Tiger grinds to more Masters history as US stars fight for lead

Tiger Woods grinded out a dramatic 23-hole walk into Masters history on Friday, set to make a record 24th consecutive cut while Americans Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa and Bryson DeChambeau battled for the lead.

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Woods, a 15-time major champion, finished 36 holes on one-over par 145, three strokes below the cut line and all-but assured of reaching the weekend as gusting winds played havoc with the field of 89, blowing sand even delaying Woods's final putt

Woods, who shared 28th after finishing rounds of 72 and 73 Friday, will reach the low 50 or level to break the cut mark he had shared with Gary Player and Fred Couples.

Five-time Masters champion Woods has struggled to walk rounds since suffering severe leg injuries in a 2021 car crash, but was forced to play 23 holes on Friday after a rain delay Thursday limited him to 13 holes.

His fight to walk across the hilly 7,555-yard layout became an emotional spectacle as fans cheered him at every hole, hoping to witness one more amazing feat on a course where the 48-year-old US legend won his first major in 1997 and most recent in 2019 in a comeback from multiple back operations.

A fight for the lead in windy conditions saw DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open winner, sink a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th to grab the lead alone at seven-under, one ahead of Homa, seeking his first major win, and top-ranked Scheffler, the 2022 Masters champion.

Woods also was playing his first major since right ankle fusion surgery last April due to injuries from the accident.

Woods, who only missed the Masters cut in 1996 as an amateur, endured a roller-coaster second round in windy conditions that sent the cut-line soaring after early bogeys at the 14th and 18th holes gave him a one-over par 73 first round.

In round two, Woods birdied the third, par-3 sixth and par-5 eighth and made bogeys at the par-3 fourth, fifth and seventh holes.

Woods sank a nine-foot birdie putt at the third, but missed both 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.

Woods answered with a hole-out from 27 feet for birdie at the par-3 sixth only to find a greenside bunker and bogey at seven, then respond by making a four-foot birdie putt at the par-5 eighth.

He followed with pars until his 19th Friday hole, making his second Friday bogey at 14 after sending his approach over the green.

Woods responded by driving the green in two at the par-5 15th and tapping in for birdie to return to one-over, three under the cutline, then parred the last three holes.

Scheffler made his first bogey of the week with a short putt rolling around the hole and staying out at the fifth hole.

Homa birdied the par-5 second hole and sank a 36-foot birdie putt at the par-3 fourth but stumbled with a bogey after missing the green at the par-4 11th.

- 'It's really tricky' -

Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard, among 20 Masters newcomers trying for the first rookie win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, closed with back-to-back bogeys to fire a 73 and share fourth on four-under 144 with England's Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters winner, still on the course.

"It's really tricky," Hojgaard said. "Wind is swirling. It's gusting. There's some tough shots on the back nine. There's more water in play. That's where the really tough shots are."

Scheffler, who could join Woods as the only players to win the Masters twice while atop the rankings, played alongside four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, chasing his first major triumph.

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