Tiger Woods has his worst opening nine ever at the Masters to fall out of contention

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods had his worst opening nine ever at Augusta National on Saturday, shooting his way right out of contention after the five-time champion had overcome brutal winds the previous day to make the cut for a record 24th consecutive time.

Woods began his day 1 over and seven shots off the lead, a big gap but one he thought could still be overcome. But after playing the first five holes of his third round in even-par, Woods began to melt down off the tee and on the greens.

Woods missed a 5-footer for par at the sixth. He dumped a wedge into the bunker and doubled the seventh. He drove it into the trees on No. 8, had to punch out and wound up doubling one of the easiest holes on the course. And by the time Woods missed another par putt at the ninth, he was left with a first-nine 42 that was two more than his previous worst.

Woods shot 40 in 1997, when he went on to win his first green jacket by 12 shots, and again in 2004, when he tied for 22nd.

Woods had to play 23 holes on Friday after darkness brought an early end to his opening round. Yet he not only persevered through a marathon day, Woods shot a second-round 72 amid such blustery conditions that the average score was 75.09, the highest for the second round of the Masters since 2007, when it was not only windy but also cold.

Woods had driven the ball well, hitting 22 of 28 fairways, and he had offset some poor approach shots — just 17 of 36 greens in regulation through two rounds — with an excellent short game. Woods began the day in the top 10 in putting this week.

What had been his strength this week — off the tee and on the greens — was his downfall on Saturday.

Now, his 100th round at the Masters on Sunday looked as if it would be an early stroll through the Georgia pines before Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau and the rest of the leaders decided who would slip into the green jacket later in the day.

“I’ve been able to play here since I was 19-years old,” Woods said Friday night. “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 I don’t think that — unless you have played and competed here, you probably don’t really appreciate.”


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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