13 April 2019: As Tiger Woods stepped in on his short putt for birdie on the 16th, the patrons that filled the amphitheatre that surrounds that green rose in unison to applaud the four-time Masters champion. There wasn’t one single place in the Augusta National Golf Club where you could not hear the Tiger roars all day long. With three birdies on either side, Woods has planted himself into the final group of the Masters for the first time since 2005. Woods scored 67 with six birdies, moving to 11-under alongside Tony Finau.
Woods has been playing well all week. If there was one concern it was about his putting from short range, Woods missed seven putts inside 12 feet in the first two rounds. On Saturday, he missed none. With that concern addressed, he was the complete force he could be to set up a juicy Sunday duel with Francesco Molinari and Finau.
The Italian hadn’t made a bogey since the 11th of the opening round. He continued in the same vein as he marched serenely through the course like a man on a mission whose job was to accomplish just that, no frills necessary.
The brilliant Finau found some of his best golf as he worked his way into contention with a brilliant 64. There were two other scores of 64 – as Webb Simpson and Patrick Cantlay left their mark on the 83rd Masters.
But after sniffing victory at the Open Championship and PGA Championship, Tiger made one more foray to the edge of a tantalising 15th major title.
“I will wake up at 0345am, follow my process to get ready for the morning,” said Woods. It promises to be a really special morning.
On Saturday, Woods began his day with a drive down the left of the fairway with his 3-wood. He was left with 34 feet for birdie, which he nearly holed. The ball slid just past the edge of the cup and he settled for par.
The fifth reshaped and extended this year has been playing as one of the most difficult holes this week. Tiger found the left fairway bunker and he was forced to lay up short of the green. A 20 footer for par was on the line but lacked the pace needed to roll, putting a bogey on the card.
Tiger made amends at the sixth, shooting iron to about 18 feet from the flag, before reading the birdie putt to perfection. The mood had turned and he wasted no time riding the momentum, posting three birdies in a row. Three birdies in four holes starting at the 13th to stamp his authority on the course.