Friday, 19 April, 2019

Tiger looms large, even on star-filled Masters leaderboard

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Cary Erickson | 14 April, 2019, 09:42

Eddie Pepperell reacts to beating marker and Augusta National member Jeff Knox, who famously outscored McIlroy in 2014.

My little Tracker heart can hardly take Tiger Woods being in contention for a third consecutive major, yet here we are.

The 14-time major victor is just a shot behind the all-star cast of Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen - all major winners - heading into the weekend.

Tiger Woods was on a charge that not even a trip by an over-zealous security guard could stall. "This is now three straight majors that I've been in the mix, and so it's good stuff".

Italy's Francesco Molinari (-13) held a two-short lead after the third round Saturday. And now 36 holes into his 22nd Masters appearance, he has give himself another opportunity here, where his 36-hole score matches the fourth-best of his Masters career.

Reigning British Open victor Francesco Molinari is the 54-hole leader at 13 under, Woods has had the grounds buzzing all week and sits two back, and the back-to-back U.S. Open champ is once again flying under the radar.

But Friday was far from a breeze.

He made six birdies, including a 30-footer at the ninth, a 15-footer at the 14th after the near-accident, and another 30-footer at the 15th, where he made his only par-5 birdie of the day.

Scott was the only player to reach 8-under with a 2-iron into 5 feet for eagle on the 15th, only to miss a 3-foot par putt on the 16th.

Joining him in the last group will be Woods, who also paired with the Italian in the final round at Carnoustie, after the American electrified Augusta National with a five-under 67 that put him on the brink of ending a 11-year majors drought.

"I got out early and the ball was going the right distance, the wind wasn't blowing too much, greens were soft, and the hole locations were much easier than the last few days", said Cantlay. "So I can live with that". I made some putts. "I did not do well in the second round, but fortunately I make the next round".

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This is where Woods first captured the attention of the sporting public when he set 20 records in winning the first of his four green jackets. "I'm under par for the golf tournament, but I'm just not enough under par".

Famous for an ugly ankle sprain he sustained during last year's par three contest when he twisted his foot while jumping up and down celebrating a hole-in-one, Finau will now be remembered for matching the Masters record for lowest front nine. Only one birdie (from Hideki Matsuyama), 27 bogeys and one double bogey resulted in a scoring average of 4.431.

Tiger Woods of the US walks off the 17th green during third round play.

"Hopefully the putter can warm up a little bit", Scott said.

"He just leaned over to kiss her, and his back went out", said Ellie Day, referencing the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Lucy.

"But a lot of guys are playing great. It really is an exciting leaderboard, fun to be a part of".

Any other time, a hobbled Day might have might have been the story after getting up off the deck to shoot five-under 67. Since then he's had 13 birdies without dropping a shot. "That's the way it goes".

Rose, Garcia and Willett, at four-over-par 148, missed by one stroke, while Schwartzel was two shots over the line. His worst putt of the day, ironically, led to a birdie.

138: Dustin Johnson (USA) 68, 70, Justin Harding (RSA) 69, 69, Xander Schauffele (USA) 73, 65, Tiger Woods (USA) 70, 68.

"All parts of my game I'm very confident in at the moment, and you know, when I am hitting it well, that's where I play my best golf", Scott said. "I still have to go out there and do it, i.e". Like myself and Phil [Mickelson], we're on the older side.