But it’s the guy whose 14 majors doubles the combined output of those five names – Tiger Woods – who ignited thunderous roars in Friday’s second round at Augusta National Golf Club. At 43 years old – and 14 years removed from his fourth and most recent Masters victory – Woods birdied both par 3s on the first nine, then slam-dunked a 37-footer at No. 9 to go out in 35.
It served to warm up the crowd, which was treated to a Woods highlight-reel of a second nine before he eventually signed for 68 to settle into a share of sixth place at 6-under 138.
For Woods, it’s the closest he’s been to the lead through 36 holes since 2002, when he led and went on to win his third Green Jacket. The 68 also marked his lowest second-round score at Augusta National since 2011, when he had a 66.
Almost as if the patrons needed a respite to save energy for Woods’ scintillating finish, they came back after a short weather delay Friday afternoon to watch the four-time Masters winner miss a birdie try from 5 feet on the famed par-3 12th. Then he failed to birdie the par-5 13th despite hitting just a 6-iron for his second shot.
Walking to the 14th tee, Woods was 4-under for the Tournament, three off the lead, and mostly taking comfort in knowing that he’d likely finish his second round despite intermittent showers. What unfolded over the next five holes provided enough drama to leave the patrons happy that he did complete it.
The drive wide left felt like déjà vu. “You could see my divot (from Thursday) about 15 yards away,” Woods said. And the recovery? Déjà vu all over again, as he did what he did Thursday – carve a recovery shot through trees and onto the green, then make the birdie putt.
“It came out perfect, to fruition,” said Woods, whose 28-foot putt completed the 167-yard adventure.
Truth be told, though, there was more to the scene than the shot and the putt. In between, Woods was merely walking toward the hole after the shot when a security official working to help provide space between Woods and the patrons, slipped. The officer’s leg caught Woods’ right ankle area, which seemed to stun Woods more than anything. He immediately limped, then kept walking and pronounced it “all good.”
Said Woods: “Accidents happen. When you play in front of a lot of people, things happen. I’m good.”
He was perfect on the putt at the 14th green seconds later, then just as pure with a 30-foot birdie roll at the par-5 15th. He was 6-under, a shot off the lead, and the patrons loved it.
They remained very much in love with the scene, Woods strutting his stuff at a Masters for the first time in years, arguably looking like a force for the first time since he last won, in 2005.
Yes, he was tied for third through 36 holes in 2010 and 2011, but he was two back and three back, respectively, and not in the physical shape that he brings to the stage now. What pleases Woods is that he was in contention at the final two majors in 2018, The Open Championship and PGA Championship, won the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship in September and has played consistently well in 2019.
That he missed solid birdie tries at the par-4 17th (6 feet) and par-4 18th (14 feet), it seemed to disappoint the patrons more than Woods.
Instead, he chewed his gum and smiled all the way in to sign his card, smelling contention at Augusta like those days of yesteryear. No, it didn’t appear as if he’d forgotten what it’s like to be on this stage.
Republished from the Masters