Despite Misses Tiger Still Lurking


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- One errant putt left Tiger Woods scratching his head. Another had him taking a halfhearted swing at the scorer's shed.
If not for those and a few other near-misses, the four-time champion might be sitting atop the Masters leaderboard instead of eyeing it from a few spots below.
'I'm in contention, so it is a good spot,' he said after a 1-under 71 Friday left him five strokes behind leader Chad Campbell. 'I thought I hit the ball really well today, and I missed four putts I should have probably made.'
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods still has a fifth green jacket in his sights.
Golf's traditional Moving Day is Saturday, but Woods has always been a little ahead of the game. The 30-year-old Woods, a 2-to-1 favorite to win his fifth Masters title, tends to make his jump in the second round, then follow it with another move in the third.
He's never broken 70 in the first round at Augusta National. In each of the four years he's won, though, he's posted a second-day score in the 60s.
  • When he won his first title in 1997, a 66 on the second day took him from fourth to first, a spot he kept the final two days.
  • In 2001, when he won his second green jacket, he jumped from 15th to second with a second-round 66. He took the lead after a 68 in the third round.
  • In 2002, a 69 in the second round moved him from seventh to fourth. He took the lead with a third-round 66.
  • Last year, a 66 vaulted him from 33rd place all the way into third. A third-round 65 gave him the lead.
    This year, though, his putting -- not to mention the blustery conditions in the afternoon -- forced him to stay put.
    'It was windy, swirly, and it just played very difficult,' Woods said. 'I mean, a good shot can end up in a bad spot and you just have to accept the consequences and move on. It was very difficult.
    'The guys who went off early probably played in the wind maybe half the round, maybe more, maybe less,' he added. 'But, hey, that's just the way it is. Tomorrow, we're all out there about the same time, and you've got to go out there and play.'
    Woods' 71 Friday was one shot better than his first-round score, but he remained five strokes off the lead. He did move up nine spots in the standings, mostly because nobody else could do much of anything, either.
    Campbell had one of only three rounds in the 60s. Vijay Singh gave three strokes back from his first-round lead with three double bogeys, while Phil Mickelson finished exactly where he started. Forty-eight players made the cut.
    'I enjoy tournaments where if you shoot a round in the 60s, you've earned it and you're going to move up the board. I think that's what major championships are all about,' Woods said. 'This week, that's how it's playing. I'm 1-under par and I'm in 10th, that's pretty good.'
    And it could have been even better.
    He had a bogey on the par-3 fourth after a gust of wind got hold of his tee shot and deposited it in a bunker. He made another on 11 after the breeze grabbed the ball and pushed it off the green.
    He missed a birdie on the par-3 16th when his 7-footer burned the left edge of the cup and kept right on going. As the crowd groaned, Woods laughed in disbelief. After tapping in, he stood on the green, scratching his head.
    He missed another close one on 18, that one from about 8 feet. He swung at the ball in disgust, then took another swipe at the air as he walked into the scorer's hut.
    'I played well today, I really did,' Woods said. 'I missed probably about four putts that I probably should have made.'
    Woods is only the third player to win the Masters four times, tying him with Arnold Palmer and leaving him two behind Jack Nicklaus. But he has a few other things on his mind this week with his father, Earl Woods, battling cancer back in California.
    His condition is so serious his son flew across country to California the day before The Players Championship to check on him. Woods returned to Sawgrass and tied for 22nd, hurting his chances with poor iron play and substandard putting.
    Though this is the first time Earl Woods hasn't been in Augusta when his son played the Masters, Woods has refused to use his father's illness as an excuse. He prefers to focus on the course.
    And what he needs to do to get another one of those green jackets.
    'I'm only five back,' he said. 'And with the forecast, if it's unpredictable as it's been all week, we'll see how it is tomorrow.'
    Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 70th Masters Tournament
  • Full Coverage - 70th Masters Tournament
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