Woods drops back as Scheffler leads Masters

Tiger Woods was unable to match the standard he set on his comeback as world number one Scottie Scheffler dealt with tricky conditions to take a commanding halfway lead at the Masters.

Woods, 46, is one over par after carding a 74, following an opening-round 71 in his first competitive round since a car crash 14 months ago.

Fellow American Scheffler, 25, shot 67 to lead on eight under at Augusta.

Scheffler, bidding for his first major win, holds a five-shot lead at the top.

The US Ryder Cup star has tied the tournament record for the largest 36-hole lead. With no player blowing such an advantage since 1945, he looks primed to continue his dominant form in 2022.

scottie scheffler
Scheffler has won three of his past five starts – the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Arnold Palmer Invitational and Phoenix Open

“I feel my game is in a good spot,” said Scheffler, who had not won a PGA Tour title before his three victories this year.

“I’ve done a good job of managing my way around the golf course. I’ve kept the cards pretty clean which is nice.”

Afterwards Woods said he had been in a “grind”, but was happy with his performance in the testing wind at Augusta National.

“It was a good fight, I’m in the ball game and tomorrow is a big day,” he said.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry carded a wonderful four-under 68 – only bettered on Friday by Scheffler and Justin Thomas – to sit in a four-way share of second place.

Lowry, 35, almost took the position outright but saw a short birdie putt on the 18th dribble past the hole.

“It was one of the best rounds I’ve ever played, the conditions were difficult,” said the 2019 Open champion.

defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, South Africa’s 2011 winner charl schwartzel and overnight leader Im Sung-jae are sat alongside Lowry on three under.

England’s Danny Willett started the day one shot off South Korea’s Im and moved to the top of the leaderboard after an impressive front nine.

But three successive bogeys after the turn saw the 2016 champion drop off the pace and he ended on one under after a 74.

american veteran Stewart Cink claimed the first hole-in-one of the tournament, sparking fervent celebrations when he aced the par-three 16th.

Woods ‘definitely feeling it’ but produces another encouraging display

After a stunning performance on Thursday which defied expectations, the next question surrounding 46-year-old Woods was how his body would cope with the exertions of another 18 holes on Friday.

Again, the physicality of the hilly Augusta terrain – which five-time champion Woods said coming into the tournament would be his toughest opponent – appeared to provide fewer difficulties than feared.

But afterwards he said: “I’m feeling it, I’m definitely feeling it. We have some work ahead of us tonight.”

Instead, it was the ball-striking which was not quite at the same level as it was during his opening 71.

Woods started with four bogeys in his opening five holes – his worst start in 92 career rounds at the Masters – before a birdie on the eighth galvanized the 15-time major champion.

It is also served to crank up the noise among the Augusta patrons, who again flocked in huge numbers to watch the former world number one.

The atmosphere ramped up further when he sunk another birdie on the 10th, but Woods’ progress was checked by successive bogeys on 11 and 12.

They were wiped out by two more birdies on 13 and 14, with Woods resiliently holing out pars on the rest of the back nine.

While not as spectacular as his opening round, it was another encouraging performance from Woods – just 409 days after he suffered life-threatening injuries when he crashed his car while speeding in February 2021.

More to follow.

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