On a loaded leaderboard at the 83rd Masters, one name stands out in the star-studded crowd. Tiger Woods will enter the weekend just one off the lead at the year’s first major. Here’s where things stand through 36 holes at Augusta National.
Leaderboard: Francesco Molinari (-7), Jason Day (-7), Brooks Koepka (-7), Adam Scott (-7), Louis Oosthuizen (-7), Dustin Johnson (-6), Justin Harding (-6), Xander Schauffele (-6), Woods (-6)
What it means: Of the top nine names on the leaderboard, seven are previous major champions. They’ve combined for 22 titles. Woods owns 14 of them. The four-time Masters winner last slipped on a green jacket in 2005 and hasn’t won a major of any kind in 11 years, since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. As for his competition, Molinari broke through last year at The Open, went 5-0 at the Ryder Cup and most recently took the Arnold Palmer. Day, the 2015 PGA champ battling a balky back, has two previous top-3 finishes at the Masters. Koepka has won three of the last six major championships and would pick up the third leg of the career slam with a win Sunday. Scott is the 2013 Masters champion who re-emerged as a major factor last August at Bellerive. Oosthuizen, the runaway winner at St. Andrews in 2010, very nearly took this event back in 2012, losing to Bubba Watson in a playoff. Johnson is the 20-time PGA Tour winner still searching for a major follow-up to his 2016 U.S. Open triumph. Schauffele in his brief major career has racked up three top-6 finishes, including a runner-up last year at Carnoustie. And then, there’s Harding, the comparative unknown on the leaderboard who is a 10-time winner across the Sunshine and Asian Tours.
Round of the day: Schauffele opened with a bogey Friday and played the rest of the golf course 8 under par to post 7-under 65, the low round of the week.
Best of the rest: Oosthuizen opened with a birdie and played his first seven holes in 4 under before carding his lone bogey at the par-5 eighth. He circled three more on the back nine – Nos. 12, 13 and 15 – on his way to a tie for the lead.
Biggest disappointments: The top 50 and ties and anyone within 10 shots of the lead make the cut at Augusta National. Sixty-five players will stay to play the weekend. Notables to miss the 4-over number include Justin Rose (+4), Danny Willett (+4), Sergio Garcia (+4), Brandt Snedeker (+5), Charl Schwartzel (+5) and Paul Casey (+10).
Amateurs in the field: Four of the six will compete for low honors. Victor Hovland (-1), Alvaro Ortiz (E), Devon Bling (+3) and Takumi Kanaya (+3) will play two more rounds. Kevin O’Connell (+4) and Jovan Rebula (+8) are headed home. Ortiz is the first LAAC winner in that event’s five-year history to make the weekend at Augusta.
Slip of the day: For the second day in a row, Woods made birdie from the trees left of the 14th fairway. But on Friday, he upped the level of difficulty, adding a falling security guard to the mix:
After steadying himself, he rolled in a 28-footer to push to 5 under par, then just two off the pace.
Quote of the day: “It sounds like you’ve let one go, right? Every 30 seconds, I would be letting the balloons out, and these guys are looking at me very strange. But they understood what’s going on.” – Day, explaining his morning routine of blowing into a balloon to set his ribcage back in place