Tiger Woods’ Masters comeback stumbles a little, but he stays in the hunt

Tiger Woods focuses on the 13th hole, which he birdied after the two previous holes' bogeys.<i>Photo: Getty</i>

Tiger Woods focuses on the 13th hole, which he birdied after the two previous holes' bogeys.Photo: Getty

It was the best of rounds and it was the worst of rounds for Tiger Woods on the second day of his return from injury at the Masters in Augusta.

His round of two-over 74 on Friday left him at one over for the tournament and tied for 19th place – though nine shots behind runaway leader Scottie Scheffler.

The Old Tiger would have hated a day that saw four birdies and six bogeys at Augusta National. The new Tiger certainly didn’t celebrate his scorecard’s bottom line as the sun started to fall over the Masters.

The legendary star of fairway and greens bounced from one end of the success spectrum to the other, his fortunes changing at an almost dizzying pace during one stretch of the afternoon.

Not his best, not his worst, but plenty good enough, especially considering what he’s been through in the 14-or-so months since the car crash that almost cost him his right leg.

“Made the cut on one leg,” caddie Joe LaCava said afterward, while Woods was signing his card. “Wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Made the cut

LaCava was offering the proper perspective. Any golf that Woods plays for the rest of his life will basically be a bonus.

Playing in his first competitive event against tour pros in almost 18 months, Woods’ comeback appearance at the Masters will stretch into the weekend.

“It was a good fight,” Woods said. “I got back in the ball game. I’m four shots back of second,” Woods said.

“I could have easily kicked myself out of the tournament today, but I kept myself in it.”

His day turned into a bit of a salvage operation after four bogeys in his first five holes.

The day’s topsy-turvy, good-bad, wildly fluctuating performance started with a birdie on the par-5 8th, followed by a disappointing par on the par-4 9th when his approach from 143 yards went so far right that he dropped his 9-iron on the follow-through.

That was followed by perhaps his gutsiest shot of the round, his second at the downhill par-4 10th, when he went at the pin, stuck his approach from just outside of 200 yards and made one of only 10 sub-par scores that hole yielded all day.

Bogeys followed at 11 and12, then a pair of birdies at 13 and 14.

The roller-coaster stopped there, with four pars finishing his afternoon and leaving Woods to lament having missed some birdies, especially at the par-3 16th.

‘Anything can happen’

The scoreboard says his position isn’t ideal, since trailing 18 other players with 36 holes left could never be called ideal.

His history, however, suggests it’s not as damning as it might look. Over his last 18 appearances at the Masters, Woods has moved up on the weekend 13 times. “Light bulb moments,” he calls them.

“You’ve seen guys do it with a chance going into the back nine,” Woods said. “If you are within five or six going into the back nine, anything can happen.

“I need to get myself there. That’s the key. I need to get myself there.”

-with AAP

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