AUGUSTA, Ga. — After 36 holes at the Masters in 2019, Tiger Woods had taken 138 strokes and was 6 under on the week. This year, after 36 holes at the Masters, Tiger Woods has taken 139 strokes and is 5 under. Woods touched off a second-round 71 early Saturday morning to get within one of where he stood 19 months ago.
There’s one big difference, though: Tiger was one back then, and now he’s four down behind the top three players in the world.
Woods restarted his second round with a second shot on No. 11 and made par at every hole coming in except for the 15th, which he birdied. After playing the first part of his second round on Friday in even par as well, it left Woods with a 1-under 71 to go with his 4-under 68 in Round 1. That 68 matched his best career opening round at the Masters.
The draw may have been a bad break for Tiger. He laid up on both par 5s in much cooler weather than he’s been experiencing at Augusta National this week, and based on some of the clubs golfer were hitting on Saturday morning, the ball was not flying like it has been all week. Still, Woods grinded out the round and kept himself in the conversation to win a second-straight Masters.
Woods has a lot of problems — notably, there are 16 golfers ahead of him and most of them are stars — but he’s also playing really well. He has just two bogeys through 36 holes, having hit 80% of fairways and 75% of greens in regulation.
The path to a Tiger win is complicated given that the top three players in the world share the 36-hole lead at 9 under, but the path to contention is easy to see. More or less, keep doing what you’ve been doing, and we’ll get a few fun Tiger moments on a patron-less Moving Day.
“Eat fast, change of clothes and then get after it,” Woods told ESPN about his plan for Saturday as he has 18 more holes forthcoming. “Scores have been low again today. The greens are soft. The course is definitely gettable with no wind.”
Last year in Round 3, Woods shot a 67 on Saturday to get himself into the final group on Sunday. It will take more than that this time around, but after a year of not contending and pauses and breaks because of a sometimes-bad back, it’s fantastic that we’re even talking about Tiger trying to defend his fifth Masters title.
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