Woods Makes Move at Masters
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) _ Tiger Woods is exactly where he was at the Masters four years ago, with another chance to make history.
Only this time, there’s someone in his way.
Masters rookie Chris DiMarco proved he was not a fluke, shooting a 69 Friday to lead at 10-under par after the second round at Augusta National.
``You can pinch me if you want,″ said DiMarco, a 32-year-old native of New York. ``It feels like a dream.″
Woods bounced back from a lackluster opening day with a 6-under 66, putting him two strokes behind DiMarco, who had a 134 total.
Woods birdied the final two holes _ banging knuckles with caddie Steve Williams after a brilliant iron shot to 4 feet at No. 17 _ and finished with an 8-under 136.
DiMarco, who shot 65 Thursday, started the second round with a bogey but quickly bounced back with two straight birdies. He was solid the rest of the way: two birdies, the remainder pars.
DiMarco will likely find himself paired with Woods on Saturday, knowing the first-round leader hasn’t won at Augusta since Ben Crenshaw in 1984.
``What a story, playing with the best player in the world on the best course in the world,″ DiMarco said.
Some of the expected challengers were keeping up with Woods.
David Duval shot 66 for a 137 total and found himself tied with Steve Stricker, Lee Janzen, Argentina’s Angel Cabrera and Japan’s Toshi Izawa at 7 under.
Despite a double-bogey at the treacherous par-3 12th in the heart of Amen Corner, Phil Mickelson was 6 under through 14 holes. Defending champion Vijay Singh had a 4-under 140.
Among those expected to miss the cut: Sergio Garcia (2 over), Jack Nicklaus (4 over), Nick Price (4 over), Nick Faldo (7 over) and Greg Norman (9 over). One of the favorites, Davis Love III, was in danger of going home after a bogey at 15 left him 3 over.
But all eyes turned to Woods, trying to become the first player to hold all four major professional titles at the same time.
In 1997, Woods had the same 136 score after two rounds at the Masters. There were plenty who questioned whether a 21-year-old could stand up to the pressure of an Augusta weekend, but he stormed away to a record-breaking 18-under victory.
Now the world’s most dominant player at 25, Woods is in prime position to capture his unique version of the grand slam. He won the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship last year.
Woods put together a run of four birdies in six holes on the front nine, then birdied both backside par 5s.
After briefly dropping back with a three-putt bogey at 16, Woods closed with a flourish. At the final hole, he sank an 8-footer for birdie.
``I’ve got a good total right now,″ he said. ``Hopefully I can continue playing the way I’m playing, just keep plugging along. I wanted to get in the 60s today and I was able to do that.″
Duval, who took the last three weeks off to heal an injured wrist, has led the Masters at the halfway point twice in the past three years.
``I know what the feelings are like,″ he said. ``I know what to expect. That’s invaluable here. I know the golf shots you have to hit and how you’re going to feel standing over them.″
Norman wasn’t so fortunate. He endured another Augusta heartbreak, shooting an 11-over 82 for his worst round in 21 Masters appearances.
Norman hit his tee shot into a deep divot at No. 7 and wound up with a bogey, beginning his downfall. He also bogeyed the next four holes, and three more down the stretch to eclipse the 80 he shot in last year’s opening round.
Norman bounced back from that debacle to shoot a 68, good enough to make the cut. This time, all he could do was head home with a 9-over 153 total.
``I drove into the middle of the fairway and it landed in an uphill divot,″ said Norman, recalling the hole that started his troubles. ``There’s not much you can do. We’re playing the game of golf.″
No one plays it better than Woods.
At No. 3, he rolled in a 6-footer for his first birdie of the day, shortly after raising his putter to celebrate playing partner Mike Weir’s 70-foot chip into the cup.
The first fist pump came at the par-3 fourth, where Woods birdied again after knocking his tee shot within 5 feet.
The next birdie came at the next par-3. Woods teed off into a mound on the back of the green at No. 6, then watched it trickle down just 2 feet from the flag.
Watching the scene unfold from the towering tee box, Woods muttered ``thank you″ when the ball finally came to rest.
He made a remarkable save at No. 7 after driving behind a pine tree, then posted another birdie at the par-5 eighth. His worst shot of the day was at nine, where Woods followed a mammoth blast off the tee with an ugly iron that sailed past the flag, leading to a three-putt on the bending, twisting green.
After making only one birdie on the four par-5s in the opening round, Woods began to take advantage of his superior power Friday. He birdied three of the long-distance holes.
At 13, Woods pitched out of a back bunker to 5 feet. He reached the green at 15 in two shots and sank a 10-footer for birdie.
Stricker, one stroke behind DiMarco after the first round, got to 9 under before bogeys at two of the final three holes gave him a 71 for the round.
Cabrera also reached 9 under before Augusta’s hard fairways and slick greens knocked him back with three bogeys in five holes.
Woods struggled a bit Thursday, shooting a 70 despite prime scoring conditions _ moist greens and little wind. DiMarco and 13 other were in the 60s, the most for a round since 1995.
The sun slipped in and out of the clouds when play resumed Friday. But the wind remained light, the greens still softer than expected.
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