Adoring Augusta cheers Tiger into another Masters weekend

golf12 April 2024 22:07
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Tiger Woods © Gallo Images

Tiger Woods battled his way to a record 24th straight cut at the Masters on Friday with a dastardly wind conspiring against him but an adoring crowd cheering him through a marathon 23 holes.

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For five-time Masters champion Woods, now 48, the milestone of surpassing Gary Player and Fred Couples' streak of 23 straight cuts made was no doubt a matter of some pride.

But despite his age, and more significantly the many injuries and surgeries that have taken their toll on his body, Woods remains the supreme competitor and his thoughts quickly turned to his goals for the weekend.

"It means I have a chance going into the weekend. I'm here. I have a chance to win the golf tournament," he said, when asked of the significance of his achievement.

Woods is on one-over 145 after two rounds, six strokes off the lead and with plenty to do if he truly is to get into contention for Sunday.

For the most, Tiger was solid rather than spectacular but at times in his second round, with an excited crowd backing him, the atmosphere of his heyday was back.

Crowds swarmed around him on the tee, rushed down the sides of the fairways to grab a look at his approach shots and the galleries around the greens were packed on every hole he played.

It certainly could have been a final round on Sunday around Amen Corner, holes 11 through 13, where spectators peeked over shoulders for a glance of his putts amid the whiff of freshly lit cigars.

Augusta loves Tiger and the feeling is mutual.

"I've always loved playing here. I've been able to play here since I was 19 years old. It's one of the honours I don't take lightly, being able to compete," he said.

"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 I don't think that – unless you have played and competed here – you probably don't really appreciate."

He parred all three holes at Amen Corner which in many ways summed up his round – rock solid and resilient with some superb short iron shots.

He made bogey on the 14th after going over the back of the green and missing a nine-foot putt for par but he bounced back on the par-5 15th with birdie and saw out the rest of his round with pars.

It was a calm end to a long day after he made three bogeys and three birdies on his front nine. He hit 25 of 28 fairways over his first two rounds, his best accuracy from the tee at Augusta since 1996.

Woods credited his knowledge of the course for his ability to get out of trouble.

"I was forced to get up-and-down a few times today, and I was able to do that," he 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."


Woods's ability to cope with dangers lurking on the course was never in doubt but some questioned whether he would physically be able to handle 23 holes – with only 52 minutes between rounds.

He chose to spend that break on the range, rather than resting, working with his irons while also having some liniment applied to his back and sides to help ease the pain he deals with on a daily basis.

"I'm tired. I've been out for a while, competing, grinding. It's been a long 23 holes, a long day," he said.

"I got my two rounds in. Just need some food and some caffeine, and I'll be good to go."

Max Homa, who played with Woods in a group with Australian Jason Day, said it was a privilege to witness Woods up close.

"His short game was so good. I don't think I can explain how good some of the chip shots he hit today were," said the American.

"It was awesome. It really is a dream to get to play with him here."