Tiger makes 24th Masters cut: 'I have a chance'

Tiger makes 24th Masters cut: 'I have a chance'
By: ESPN GOLF Posted On: April 13, 2024 View: 27

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods' 15 major championship victories include five wins at the Masters. An 82-time winner on the PGA Tour, Woods was ranked the No. 1 golfer in the world for 683 weeks -- more than 13 years.

Given how little competitive golf Woods has played over the past three years since he was seriously injured in a car wreck in February 2021 -- and the fact that he's now playing with a fused back and right ankle -- what the 48-year-old accomplished Friday might be one of the most remarkable achievements of his storied career.

By carding an even-par 72 in the second round of the 88th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, Woods broke a tournament record with his 24th consecutive made cut. He previously held the record with Fred Couples (1983-2007) and Gary Player (1959-82). Woods was 1 over par and tied for 22nd after 36 holes.

The cut was 6 over. Woods has never missed the cut at the Masters as a professional.

Despite playing only one full competitive round in a PGA Tour event this season, Woods wasn't thinking about a made cut heading into the weekend. He still believes he has a chance to win a sixth green jacket. He was 8 shots behind leader Bryson DeChambeau when he finished.

"It means I have a chance going into the weekend," Woods said. "I'm here. I have a chance to win the golf tournament. I don't know if they're all going to finish today, but I'm done. I got my two rounds in. Just need some food and some caffeine, and I'll be good to go."

There's no question that Friday was a challenge for Woods. He had completed 13 holes of the first round when play was suspended shortly before 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. He was the first player at the practice area on Friday morning, then teed off at 7:45 a.m. ET and played the final five holes of his opening round.

Woods had bogeys on the par-4 14th and the par-4 18th and shot 1-over 73 in the first round.

"I'm tired," Woods said after the second round. "I've been out for a while, competing, grinding. It's been a long 23 holes, a long day. But [caddie Lance Bennett] and I really did some good fighting today, and we've got a chance."

After waiting less than 50 minutes to tee off in the second round, Woods had an action-packed first nine. He had birdies on Nos. 3, 6 and 8 and bogeys on Nos. 4, 5 and 7. He made the turn at even-par 36.

Woods' putter started cooperating on the second nine, and he made several clutch up-and-downs to save par. He opened the second nine with four straight pars, including three in a row on Nos. 11, 12 and 13 at Amen Corner.

Woods picked up his first bogey of the second nine on the par-4 14th. After hitting a 307-yard drive down the right side of the fairway, his ball was 150 yards from the pin. His approach shot was long and left, and his ball ended up stopping in a gallery of patrons, about 51 feet from the hole. He chipped to 9 feet and missed the par putt to fall to 2 over.

Woods bounced back on the next hole, the par-5, 550-yard 15th. After hitting a 292-yard tee shot, Woods was left with 258 yards to the pin. He ripped a 3-wood and his ball reached the green, about 25 feet from the hole. His eagle putt stopped about 2 feet short of the hole. He tapped in the birdie putt to go back to 1 over.

On the par-4 18th, Woods showed the physical wear of playing 23 holes. He labored while walking up the hill and pulled his approach shot left. His ball landed below the left greenside bunker about 33 yards from the hole. He pitched the ball to 5 feet and made the par putt.

"I was forced to get up and down a few times today, and I was able to do that," Woods said. "A lot of those chip shots I was able to get up and down because I left it in the perfect spot, and that's understanding how to play this golf course. Probably the only exception was the spot I put myself in on 14. Most of the up-and-downs, I was in a perfect spot."

Woods drove the ball extremely well in the first two rounds. He hit 79% of fairways and routinely hit his drives past his playing partners, Max Homa and Jason Day. Woods' iron game was rusty, as he hit only 47% of greens. He was only 1-for-19 on putts longer than 10 feet in the first 36 holes.

Woods said he planned to text his good friend Couples, who was 12 over while playing with an aching back and will miss the cut, and needle him about breaking the record.

Woods' course knowledge and experience at Augusta National -- he is making his 26th start in the Masters -- were invaluable on a day when swirling winds and gusts of more than 30 mph made already difficult shots even more treacherous.

Ireland's Shane Lowry, who was 3 over after 36 holes, said Augusta National's firm and fast greens and the weather made the first two rounds "probably the toughest two days of golf" that he had ever played.

"You can be made to look like an idiot out there today by not doing too much wrong," Lowry said. "If you're talking in boxing terms, walking up 18, you'd think it was Round 12 today, not Round 2. It was tough."

Despite his physical limitations, Woods was among the golfers who handled the conditions better than most. More than anything, he seemed happy to be playing competitive golf again -- especially at Augusta National.

"I've always loved playing here," Woods said. "I've been able to play here since I was 19 years old. It's one of the honors I don't take lightly, being able to compete. The years I have missed, I wish I was able to play because there's such an aura and mystique about playing this golf course that unless you have played and competed here, you probably don't really appreciate [it]."

Woods' achievement wasn't lost on some of his competitors. Despite not having played in a professional tournament since he withdrew after 24 holes of the Genesis Invitational because of the flu in mid-February, Woods played well enough to compete on the weekend.

Among the players who won't make the cut are former Masters champions Dustin Johnson (13 over), Bubba Watson (10 over) and Jordan Spieth (9 over), as well as reigning Open Championship winner Brian Harman (9 over) and Sam Burns (9 over).

"Just look at what Tiger is doing right now," said amateur Stewart Hagestad, who missed the cut (8 over) in his third Masters appearance. "The guy has barely played at all in the last calendar year, and he's 1 over. That's alien stuff. That's unbelievable."

Added Homa, who is 6 under after 36 holes, the best position of his career heading into the weekend of a major championship: "It really is a dream to get to play with him here. I've been saying I always wanted to just watch him hit iron shots around here, and I was right up next to him. It was really cool.

"His short game was so good. I don't think I can explain how good some of the chip shots he hit today were. He's special. We had a really quick turnaround, and if I was feeling tired and awful, I imagine he was feeling even worse."

Woods insisted he isn't done, either. Earlier this week, he suggested that he would have a chance to win another Masters title if "everything comes together." He has plenty of work to do in the final 36 holes but isn't out of it yet.

"I'm right there," Woods said. "I'm only 8 back as of right now. I don't think anyone is going to run off and hide right now, but it's really bunched. The way the ball is moving on the greens, chip shots are being blown, it's all you want in a golf course today."

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