Masters 2024: Tiger Woods sets new record and sets sights on weekend contention

Masters 2024: Tiger Woods sets new record and sets sights on weekend contention
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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Even at 48, Tiger Woods is reluctant to succumb to nostalgia, but one-upmanship is always on the agenda as evidenced by his record-breaking day on Friday at the Masters.

Woods endured a marathon 23-hole day at Augusta National after failing to complete his opening round on Thursday and he penned yet another record into the Masters record book with his 24th consecutive made cut at the year’s first major, eclipsing the previous mark shared by Fred Couples and Gary Player.

“I think I will be able to [appreciate the record] as soon as I’m done with you guys and text Freddy and give him a little needle,” Woods smiled.

For Woods, it was a rare bright spot on an otherwise brutal day that began well before sunrise and tested every part of his surgically repaired body.

Friday was a difficult scenario for Woods, who, prior to this week, had played just 24 holes on the PGA Tour since withdrawing from last year’s Masters before having subtalar fusion surgery on his right ankle.

After darkness halted play on Day 1, Woods had five holes to complete when the round resumed at 7:50 a.m. EDT, and less than an hour to prepare for Round 2 following an opening 73.

It was a predictably eventful day with winds that gusted to 25 mph and greens that quickly firmed up following Thursday’s rain. Woods made birdies at Nos. 3, 6 and 8, which were offset by bogeys at Nos. 4, 5 and 7. The second nine was more consistent, with Woods rebounding from a bogey at No. 14 with a textbook birdie at the par-5 15th hole, en route to an even-par 72. For a player with a well-documented history of assorted injuries that make weather delays and cold mornings occupational hazards, it was an encouraging, if not exhausting, result.

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

For Woods, the cut streak – which began in 1997 when he won the first of his five green jackets – was little more than a means to an end.

“It means I have a chance going into the weekend. I’m here. I have a chance to win the golf tournament,” he said. “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.”

He’s around for the weekend, but if Woods is going to have any chance of legitimately contending he’ll also need plenty of help from the rest of the field. Woods will be at least seven shots off the lead with Bryson DeChambeau and Max Homa also done, at 6 under.

Still, enduring 23 holes in a single day on what is widely considered the game’s most demanding walk was a positive sign for the 15-time major champion, who began the week awash in uncertainty following his withdrawal from the Genesis Invitational earlier this year.

As for his game, there was a little bit of everything for Woods on Friday. Although he trailed the field average in greens in regulation (17 of 36) and driving distance, his putting (1.56 average) and scrambling were crucial on a day when the conditions left no margin for error.

“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.”

While Woods’ score may have left him in the middle of the Masters pack, his play was inspiring even for those who were weathering the blustery conditions alongside him.

“It was awesome. It really is a dream to get to play with him here. I always wanted to just watch him hit iron shots around here and I was right up next to him. It was really cool,” said Homa, who was grouped with Woods for the first two rounds. “I don’t think I can explain how good some of the chip shots he hit today were. He’s special.”

Woods setting a new standard for consistency was also special but his focus, like it always is, was squarely on the next challenge.

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