April 14, 2013

Tiger's lurking at Masters after avoiding disqualification

Tiger Woods is handed a two-shot penalty for a Friday decision, and is four behind co-leaders.

The Associated Press

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Tiger Woods was given a two-shot penalty for taking an illegal drop during Friday’s round.

The Associated Press

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Brandt Snedeker says he’s been waiting 32 years for this moment, for this chance to win the Masters. He’s tied for the lead with Angel Cabrera.

The Associated Press

LEADERBOARD

Snedeker 70-70-67--209

A. Cabrera 71-69-69--209

A. Scott 69-72-69--210

Leishman 66-73-72--211

J. Day 70-68-73--211

M. Kuchar 68-75-69--212

T. Clark 70-76-67--213

T. Woods 70-73-70--213

TV SUNDAY: 2 p.m., CBS

Matt Kuchar (69) was three shots back and Woods was right behind.

Woods, the No. 1 player in the world who already has won three times this year, was the heavy favorite going into the Masters to capture a green jacket for the first time since 2005 and end his five-year drought in the majors.

His big move came after a bogey on the 11th hole, leaving him six shots behind as he made his way through a back nine that has not treated him kindly of late. But he ran off three birdies on the next four holes, and made clutch par saves on the 16th and 18th to stay in the game.

"I'm right there in the ball game, "Woods said. "I'm four back with a great shot to win this championship."

History is not on his side. Woods has never won a major from behind, and every Masters champion has been no worse than a tie for fourth going into Sunday dating to Nick Faldo's comeback in 1989. But at least he's still in the game.

That was never in doubt to the officials running the Masters. Fred Ridley, chairman of the competition committees, said he looked at video as Woods was playing the 18th hole Friday and saw no need to ask him about the drop because he didn't detect a violation. It was only after Woods' post-round interview when he implicated himself by saying he went back a few yards by design that it became an issue.

Because he saw no problem at first with the drop and let Woods sign his card without talking to him, Ridley said it would have been "grossly unfair to Tiger to have disqualified him." He said the notion of a disqualification was "not even on the table."

Woods couldn't have been too shaken up by the morning activities. He birdied the first hole. The key for everyone was simply to stay somewhere around contention, and that wasn't easy. Rory McIlroy was only three shots out of the lead when he took a bogey on the seventh hole. Little did he realize it would start a nasty cycle. With a pair of 7s on his card on the back nine -- wind shifts led to a triple bogey on the 11th and a double bogey on the 15th -- he shot 42 on the back for a 79.

"I play 7 through 11 in 5-over par and basically my chances in the tournament are gone," McIlroy said. "So it's very disappointing. I feel like I have been playing well coming in here and it's just a frustrating day here."

Former PGA champion Keegan Bradley had an 82, while Phil Mickelson shot 40 on the back nine for the second straight day and had a 77. Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China, went his second straight round without a birdie and had a 77. He was still smiling, soaking in his weekend at Augusta as the youngest player to make a cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned tournament.

Meanwhile, Snedeker takes an amazing streak into the final round. He has gone 27 consecutive holes without a bogey at Augusta National, and he has a clear plan of what he needs to do be fitted for a green jacket.

"If I drive the ball in the fairway and play the par 5s well tomorrow, I'm going to have a really good day."

 

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