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Tiger Woods Has a Bumpy Second Round at the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. — An hour into his second round at the Masters Tournament on Friday, Tiger Woods looked baffled. A poor chip on the first hole had led to a bogey. He squandered a chance at birdie on the par-5 second hole with middling pitch. He missed a makable downhill par on the third green.

It only got worse on the fourth hole: a poor tee shot, a flubbed bump-and-run approach, a bogey. On the next hole, another bogey, his fourth in the opening five holes.

Woods’s shoulders slumped, he shook his head and laughed as if mocking his own ineptitude. That is not his usual demeanor.

But his precision under pressure from Thursday’s uplifting first round, when Woods shot a one-under-par 71, seemed to have deserted him.

Friday was different from the start, a chilly day at Augusta National Golf Club with winds gusting up to 20 miles an hour. Perhaps after Woods walked 18 holes on Thursday in his first competitive round in 17 months, his surgically rebuilt right leg was sore.

He would have been forgiven for having an off day when it seemed like the confidence and resilience mustered in his previous round just wasn’t there.

Instead, Woods stopped snickering at himself. He battled back to steady his round with four birdies in his next nine holes. The rest of his day was far from perfect, and sometimes still erratic, but it had the determination, flair and dramatics of a vintage Tiger Woods golf round.

Anyone surprised?

In the end, Woods shot a two-over-par 74 with four birdies and six bogeys to finish one over par for the tournament, a score that will advance him to the final two rounds this weekend. Woods is tied for 19th place, nine strokes behind the leader, Scottie Scheffler.

“I could have easily kicked myself out of the tournament today, but I kept myself in it,” Woods said afterward. “It was a good fight. I got back in the ball game.”

There were other positives for Woods besides his ability to recover from a poor start to the second round. Physically, he seemed to handle hilly Augusta National more comfortably than he did in Thursday’s first round. His limp was less pronounced, and he negotiated the many elevation changes more quickly and aggressively.

“I’m starting to come around,” he said, crediting a team of rehabilitation specialists who travel with him and help him prepare from round to round. He compared the crew to a NASCAR team that keeps cars running fast and smooth.

“After I go ahead and break it out there, they go ahead and repair it at night,” Woods said. “I’m good at breaking it. They’re good at fixing it.”

Woods’s second-round comeback began at the long par-5 eighth hole when he faded a long drive to the left side of the fairway to have the best angle into the green. His second shot with a fairway wood landed just to the right of the putting surface, and from there Woods lofted a soft, spinning chip that settled eight inches from the hole for a tap-in birdie.

On the ninth hole, his approach missed the devilish, sloping and elevated green, but he delicately stopped his third shot within six feet of the hole then drained a par putt he desperately needed to make.

At three over par, it was an ineffectual opening nine holes, but Woods had closed with some spirited, proficient and resourceful play and made the turn two over par for the tournament, which was still in touch with the names atop the leaderboard.

Things began to look up on the 10th hole, when Woods split the fairway with a draw and chose a fearless approach to a hole cut only 12 feet from the right edge of the green. The safe course would have been to aim for the middle of the green. Woods disregarded that notion and sent his shot toward the narrow slice of green right of the flag.

Safely on the putting surface, the ball stopped eight feet from hole, close enough for Woods to roll it in for another birdie.

At the recently redesigned 11th hole, which played as the toughest hole on the course in the first round, Woods hit two solid shots and appeared poised to make a much needed par from just off the green. But his short chip ran well past the hole and produced another bogey.

Perhaps rattled by the setback, Woods may have made a mental mistake when he chose a 7-iron at the diabolic par-3 12th hole, which was playing into the stiff wind. But a 7-iron was too much club at the 155-yard hole and his tee shot sailed well over the green, landing near an azalea bush before rebounding into a bunker behind the small 12th green.

With Rae’s Creek not far away, Woods took an abbreviated swing from the sand. His ball exited but only a few feet and did not reach the green. Two putts later, his score was back to two over.

Time for another rally.

At the par-5 13th hole, after an accurate drive and a courageous fairway wood struck over the pond protecting the green, Woods deftly put his third green-side shot close enough to make a short birdie putt. Another precise drive — Woods’s accuracy with his driver was much improved on Friday — set up a well-placed approach shot to the 14th green and another birdie that moved him to two over par for the tournament.

Woods would close his day with four pars. Not taking advantage of the par-5 15th hole — a certain birdie opportunity for most of the players in the field — was a disappointment. And at the par-3 16th, Woods showed his years of experience at Augusta National when he sent his tee shot onto the hill well right of a left pin placement. The ball spun and rolled to within nine feet of the hole, but Woods’s putt skirted the edge of the cup. The 17th hole was similar — well played but lacking a decisively made birdie putt.

At the closing, 18th hole, Woods’s approach shot went far past the cup cut in the lower half of the green. But his lengthy downhill putt from near the back fringe settled five feet from the hole, setting up a putt that Woods sank with aplomb.

Woods marched from the green and toward the clubhouse and locker room with a confident grin, his head up and looking forward.

“Conditions on the weekend are going be tough,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting, and it’s going to be fun for all of us.”

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