The Masters at Augusta report: Tiger Woods two behind Francesco Molinari

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods will feature in the final group on Sunday but it's Francesco Molinari who holds a two-shot lead heading into the final round of The Masters.


Leaders

-13 Molinari

-11 Woods, Finau

-10 Koepka

-9 Simpson, Poulter

Day three report

Tiger Woods will feature in the final group on Sunday but it's Francesco Molinari who holds a two-shot lead heading into the final round of The Masters.

The Italian, who outplayed Woods to win the Open Championship last summer, carded a bogey-free 66 to move to 13-under as conditions proved perfect for scoring at Augusta National.

Woods, who began the day one off the lead, saw the gap extended to two with a round of 67 but nevertheless forced his way into the final group along with Tony Finau, who carded one of three 64s.

The leading trio will begin shortly after 9am local time on Sunday as bad weather threatens to play a part in what should be a gripping denouement.

Early on Saturday it became clear that low scorers were out there, Patrick Cantlay threatening a course record before signing for an eight-under 64.

At six-under overall, the Californian likely felt he'd played his way into contention - until several late starters followed his lead on a day of fireworks.

Finau took over in the lead at nine-under with an eagle at the eighth, his approach coming to rest a foot from the hole, and he would've been the first man to turn in 29 had he not missed from 10 feet at the ninth.

Still, the big-hitting American kept moving forward with birdies at 13 and 15 and spent much of the early afternoon with a clear advantage.

That's until both Woods and Molinari got to work, the former making three birdies in a row from the sixth and adding three more at holes 13, 15 and 16 to match Finau's score.

Behind him, Molinari had to work hard for pars at four and five in a slow start to his round, but a birdie at the sixth and another at the eighth brought him to within two of Finau.

Molinari then threw a dart to inside two feet at the 12th, birdied both par-fives having hit the green in two and threw in a delicate birdie putt at the 14th in a burst of scoring which took him clear.

He had to work hard for his par at the last, but a deft bunker shot again underlined the improvements he's made with his short game and at 13-under he's the man to catch.

Brooks Koepka dropped back to eight-under with a bogey at the 14th, but a laser-like approach to 15 set up an eagle to get him to 10-under, while Ian Poulter birdied the last to join Webb Simpson on nine-under.

Simpson was the second man to shoot 64, Finau the third, but it was Molinari's 66 which put him on course for his second major championship in nine months.

Woods, seeking his 15th, will have to do what he has never done and come from behind on the final day, but from the final group his chance is second only to the diminutive Italian who leads.

Day two report

Tiger Woods charged up the leaderboard to cap a dizzying Friday at Augusta National, where five players share the lead with the 14-time major champion just one behind.

Woods birdied four of the final 10 holes after a frustrating start to end the second round on the tail of the quintet who had taken turns to reach seven-under, setting the stage for a pulsating weekend.

Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen are tied for the lead, with Woods tied for sixth alongside Dustin Johnson, Justin Harding and Xander Schauffele.

Ian Poulter is a shot further back and will be Woods' playing partner in the third round, with Jon Rahm also five-under after grinding his way to a bogey-free Friday.

As play began on a damp morning, there was talk of a potential showdown between Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, the first-round leaders who each made an ideal start to the second.

But as Koepka ran up a double-bogey at the second to undermine the birdie he had made at the first, the risk of a proven major winner turning the tournament into a procession disappeared faster than it had emerged.

DeChambeau managed to keep his name atop the leaderboard for a while longer, but a bogey at nine began a steady fall and he eventually settled for a round of 75 and a three-under halfway total.

By contrast, Koepka rallied and a closing birdie won back his share of first, this time with Molinari, who moved to the front with a 25-foot birdie at the 12th, and Day, who defied fitness concerns to play his way into the mix.

With Johnson just one behind, a collection of the game's elite had set out their respective stalls, and during the early afternoon it appeared unlikely that Woods would challenge them.

However, a thumping birdie putt at the ninth followed by the only birdie of the day at the 11th saw him climb to four-under, before a brief weather delay appeared set to half his momentum.

Woods returned to a birdie chance at 12 but it went begging and with moisture now on the greens, he left another chance short at the par-five 13th.

But Woods was not done, and a classic Tiger birdie at the 14th - one wayward drive, one crafted approach and one perfect putt - saw him begin one more push towards the top.

Woods birdied the 15th from range after a mediocre wedge before pars at 16, 17 and 18, the latter two only after chances had gone begging, saw him complete a round of 68.

That score had already been posted by Scott, who made it to eight-under before a clumsy three-putt at the 16th hole denied him the lead and pushed the cut mark down by a shot.

Oosthuizen went lower still with a round of 66 which included a brilliant par save at the last, but that number was bettered by Schauffele, the quiet Californian who went round in 65 after a birdie at the same hole.

Such names make the task of debutant Harding all the tougher, but he's right there among the game's elite and will at the very worst have a front-row seat to what promises to be a Masters Saturday for the ages.

It will be without Justin Rose, who missed his first Masters cut after a bogey at the 18th, while Rory McIlroy's brief challenge petered out and he'll begin the weekend seven shots adrift.

McIlroy had looked poised for a charge of his own when making eagle at the eighth, but bogeys at the 11th and 13th holes proved costly and he has history against him now.

For Woods, the gap is just one, and the roars sweeping across Augusta National on Friday will grow louder still should be pick up where he left off.

Friday's round was one of patience and poise, with the putter sparking to life just when it was needed to send a prowling Tiger into Saturday's third round right in contention once more.

Day one report

Brooks Koepka once again lead the way at a major championship after ending day one of The Masters tied for the lead with Bryson DeChambeau.

Koepka has won the last two editions of the US Open as well as the PGA Championship last August, and he's threatening to add a Green Jacket to his collection after an opening 66.

The big-hitting American was the only player in the field to go bogey-free and his score was enough to beat all bar DeChambeau, who ended his round with three birdies in succession to share the lead.

Phil Mickelson returned to form as a birdie at the last saw him shoot 67, with Ian Poulter the pick of the European challengers after a four-under 68 which saw him share fifth with Dustin Johnson.

Tiger Woods bogeyed the 17th in an otherwise promising round of 70, but Rory McIlroy's grand slam bid started poorly with two closing bogeys which saw him end the day seven shots back of the lead.


Masters content


For much of the morning, the tough 18th hole repeatedly swatted away those who had made hay to that point and it was Justin Harding, despite a bogey at the last, who was first to break 70.

The South African's 69, carded on his Masters debut, was matched by Jon Rahm and 2013 winner Adam Scott, but it soon became clear that the afternoon wave would threaten lower numbers.

It was Johnson who first sauntered to two-under, but a birdie at the 10th kickstarted Koepka's run and when he holed from just off the 12th green he was back in a familiar position at the top of the leaderboard.

A straightforward birdie at the par-five 13th saw him reach four-under, a curling birdie at the 14th made it five, and another expert pitch at the 15th meant he was six-under and two clear.

Koepka then missed a chance at 16 where minutes earlier, DeChambeau had come close to a hole-in-one as his challenge began to gather pace.

Having also birdied 15, DeChambeau tapped in for a two at the par-three 16th, chipped in on 17 and then saved the best until last, his approach to 18 hitting the pin for another tap-in birdie.

"It was great, it came out of the rough beautifully," DeChambeau told Sky Sports.

Of his back-nine charge, he added: "For some reason, got some good numbers and was able to get the good wind, except on 14, and we hit our shots, struck it beautifully.

"We changed all my shafts, every single one of them. We've uncovered some stuff which is pretty cool and this round is just a testament of what is to come."

Playing in the penultimate group, behind DeChambeau and ahead of Koepka, Mickelson kept the youngsters honest with a birdie at the last in a round of 67, while Poulter and Johnson finished off their own excellent work with pars.

That meant the top five on the leaderboard all came from the final groups on the tee, which the likes of Woods and McIlroy will hope gives them the chance to make inroads on Friday evening.

The task is already a momentous one, however, with a three-time major champion tied for the lead with a player who has won five times since last summer.

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