Tiger Woods writes incredible Masters history as golf icon ‘hangs in there’

Tiger Woods writes incredible Masters history as golf icon 'hangs in there'

Watching Tiger Woods at the Masters is always memorable. From winning his first Green Jacket as a 21-year-old here in 1997 to his fairytale fifth Green Jacket in 2019, the American superstar has written unforgettable history here. 

At the age of 48, he is now involved in negotiations with the Saudi Public Investment Fund over the future of golf and considering taking the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2025. 

But the 15-time Major winner still has the “sheer determination” to set more records at Augusta National. And today, in winds gusting up to 35mph under clear blue skies, the world 959 forced himself to walk 23 holes at Augusta National to make his 24th consecutive cut to set a new mark ahead of Freddie Couples and Gary Player. And the huge crowds which still follow him show he is now the sentimental favourite. 

Woods twice hit errant approach shots into the crowd and his walk became more laboured later in the day. The five-time champion won’t equal Jack Nicklaus’ record of wins here this weekend. But he still has the game and the heart to play the weekend here after posting level par for the day – and one over for the tournament.

After his round, Woods was asked what his latest record meant to him. “It means I have a chance going into the weekend,” the golfing icon replied. “I have a chance to win the golf tournament. I got my two rounds in. I’m right there. I’m tired. I’ve been out for a while, competing, grinding. It’s been a long 23 holes, a long day. But (caddie) Lance (Bennett) and I really did some good fighting today, and we’ve got a chance. Just need some food and some caffeine, and I’ll be good to go.”

Sir Nick Faldo, who played the opening two rounds with Woods in 1997, told the Golf Channel: “He survives on sheer determination. If you are 48-years old and a fit, you are in trouble making the cut. I think it is absolutely incredible. He is hanging in there. Pars here are really good. You have to grind them out.”

Of all the amazing statistics in Woods’ career, maybe the most striking is the 142 consecutive cuts he made on the PGA Tour between 1998 and 2005. Even when out of contention, he never quit. And the 15-time Major winner, who has undergone five back surgeries and has a fused right ankle, is showing the same spirit here in only his second event of the year.

He pulled out at the Masters last year after seven holes of his third round with plantar fasciitis and he has not played 72 holes of competitive golf for 15 months. His aching body has held up so far. After a delayed start to the first round, Woods had scrambled to stay alive in the fading light on Thursday evening.

He re-started his first round at 7.50am on one-under par on the 14th tee on with the low sun shining straight into his eyes. His opening drive went only 287 yards and he walked up the fairway continuing his pre-round stretches before thinning his iron short of the green on his way to an opening bogey. It was not a promising start. He failed to get up and down for another dropped shot on 18 to card an opening 73 at 9.30am. 

Woods and his playing partners Max Homa and Jason Day had only 48 minutes before going again in his second round. He opened with two pars but the wild next six holes saw three bogeys and three birdies and looked every one of his 48 years as he bent down to pick his ball out of the cup after dropping a shot on No.7.

Woods’ run of five consecutive pars ended at the 14th when his right-hand came off his short iron from 150 yards and he pulled his approach into the crowd to slip to two-over par before fourth birdie of the day on 15.

Given the testing conditions, Aussie Cam Davis was “proud” of his level-par 72 which gave him the early clubhouse lead on three-under par. The 1992 champion Freddie Couples, who followed his opening 80 with a 76, said: “It was brutal out there.”