Tiger Woods returned to familiar territory in typically gritty fashion at the US Masters on Friday, surging ominously into contention with two back-nine birdies in the second round at Augusta National.
Looking composed at one of his favorite venues and showing no hint of rust in his first tournament for nearly five months, the world No. 1 ground out a two-under-par 70 to end a difficult day of scoring just two shots off the lead.
Engaging with the Augusta fans at every opportunity in glorious spring sunshine, Woods rolled in a 20-foot putt at the 13th before sinking a 12-footer at the 15th on the way to a six-under total of 138.
The four-times champion, whose troubled private life appears to have had no effect on his golf, was to go into yesterday’s third round headed only by British pacesetters Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.
Poulter fired a five-birdie 68, his only blemish coming at the last where he missed a seven-foot par putt, while Westwood briefly got to 10-under before losing momentum over the closing stretch for a 69.
“It feels good to be back and in contention,” Woods told reporters after finishing level with playing partner K.J. Choi of South Korea (71) and Americans Phil Mickelson (71), Anthony Kim (70) and Ricky Barnes (70).
“I usually put myself in contention most years here and this year I’m right there. We’ve got 36 more holes and I’m sure the golf course, they are not going to make it easy for us,” Woods said.
Poulter, who won his first PGA Tour title at the elite WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, was delighted to share the 36-hole lead in the year’s opening major.
“This is a nice position to be in and obviously winning a couple of months back is a huge factor in playing well this week,” said the English world No. 7, who, like Westwood, had never previously led after a major round.
“I’m in a position now where I can go out and be aggressive on the golf course, but it’s only Friday, so I don’t want to get carried away,” Poulter said.
Indian police are investigating an alleged betting scandal in which a sham cricket tournament was held in an Indian village and passed off as a Twenty20 contest played in Sri Lanka. Players portrayed as Sri Lankan cricketers played two matches on Monday last week that were broadcast with live commentary on YouTube, media reports said, along with ball-by-ball coverage on top Indian sports Web sites. The organizers hung Sri Lankan advertisements at the ground for added authenticity and put up tents to block the view from outside the remote rural venue, set in farmland next to a busy highway. Police said that they
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