Tiger Woods reacts to his birdie putt on the 15th hole during the second round for the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 12, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Masters Day 2: Crowded at the top, Tiger lurks

Host of big names on leaderboard after 36 holes

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods made the largest logjam in Masters history look even bigger by making Augusta National sound as loud as ever.

Even on a Friday, in the rain.

Golf’s best worked their way to the top of the leaderboard at a Masters pregnant with possibilities. The first five-way tie for the lead after 36 holes at Augusta featured Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen.

All of them are major champions. Three have been No. 1 in the world.

Looming just as large was Woods, who atoned for missing two birdie chances inside 8 feet on the back nine with consecutive birdie putts from 30 feet that sent him to a 4-under 68 and left him one shot behind.

Woods was tied with Dustin Johnson, another major champion and world No. 1, along with Xander Schauffele and Masters newcomer Justin Harding of South Africa.

If that’s not enough, Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas were very much in the mix.

“This is really stacked,” Scott said. “I think it’s going to be an incredible weekend no matter what happens now.”

Woods has gone 14 years since he last won the green jacket, 11 years since his last major and had five surgeries — four on his back, the other to rebuild his left knee.

But he feels he’s getting closer.

“The last three majors, I’ve been right there,” Woods said.

He briefly held the lead Sunday in the British Open. He chased Koepka to the finish line in the PGA Championship. And now he goes into the weekend one shot behind, the closest he has been to a lead going into the weekend at a major since the 2013 British Open at Muirfield.

But that’s not just anyone he’s trailing.

Molinari, the British Open champion who has shown he belongs among the elite in golf, had a 67 and was the first to reach 7-under 137. Day was right behind, coping with nagging soreness in his lower back with a 67 to match the Italian.

Koepka, the U.S. Open and PGA champion, began with a birdie to quickly take the lead, only to hit out of the pine straw, off a tree and into the creek to make double bogey on the par-5 second hole. He made two more bogeys before reaching the seventh hole, and then pulled himself together to salvage a 71.

“You’re going to be tested in a major championship one way or another,” Koepka said. “I hit a bad shot just got to suck it up and just keep going on. You’ve got a lot of holes left, and you can make up some ground. Thankfully, it wasn’t on the 18th hole where you need a par to win or something. Just got to keep battling and see where I leave myself tomorrow afternoon.”

Scott was the only player to reach 8 under with a 2-iron into 5 feet for eagle on the 15th, only to miss a 3-foot par putt on the 16th. It added up to a 68 for the Australian who won the Masters six years ago, and has gone three years since his last victory.

He had a chance to win the PGA Championship in his last major until Koepka pulled away and Scott made a careless bogey at the end to finish third. He has shown flashes this year on the West Coast, at Torrey Pines and Riviera, but has geared his game toward this week.

Here he is, with a lot of company.

“Look, tomorrow is a very important day because there’s no doubt someone in the top 15, or a few of them, are going to play very well,” Scott said. “This is the best players in the world on the biggest stage that we all want to be in so badly.”

Corey Conners (71) of Listowel, Ont., was in a group tied for 16th at 3-under par, four shots back of the leaders. Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., missed the cut by a shot.

RELATED: Prowling Tiger: Woods in the hunt after opening Masters with a 70

The only scare for Woods came on the 14th hole, when his drive went well left into the trees. The shot was pure, hooking around the pines to the green. On his quick walk to the fairway to see where the shot finished, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent rushing over to control the spectators behind Woods slipped on the rain-slickened grass and slid into Woods’ right leg.

Woods hopped out of the way, winced and repeatedly flexed his ankle, and then poured in another putt.

He didn’t show any trouble the rest of the way, and didn’t find much interest in talking about it after his round except to say “accidents happen” and “it’s all good.” He was particularly happy to finish, especially after storms moved into the area and stopped play right after his tee shot into 5 feet on the dangerous par-3 12th.

The delay lasted only 29 minutes. Woods returned to miss the putt, and then took three shots from 35 feet behind the par-5 13th green to lose another prime birdie opportunity. But he made it up for them with a couple of long birdie putts, and he had no complaints with his position.

“I feel like I played my own way back into the tournament,” Woods said. “I was just very patient today, felt very good to be out there doing what I was doing. This is now three straight majors that I’ve been in the mix and so it’s good stuff.”

Mickelson stumbled to a 73 but still was only three shots behind. Bryson DeChambeau, who shared the 18-hole lead with Koepka, went bogey-double bogey around the turn and shot 75. He still was within four shots, along with Justin Thomas, who had a 68.

As for Rory McIlroy, the career Grand Slam might need to wait another year. McIlroy played the par 5s in even — two bogeys, one par and an eagle on No. 8 that got him under par, but only briefly. He was only seven shots behind, but he had 35 players in front of him.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Just Posted

Vernon Easter egg hunts delight kids

Photographer Katherine Peters captured some cool images of little ones enjoying Easter egg hunts

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Sun makes way for rain clouds

Environment Canada is forecasting a mixed bag of conditions

Vernon woman designs beer festival label finalist

Sarah Annand’s design for Twin Sails Brewing has made final round of voting in Best Label event

Maxime Bernier, leader of People’s Party of Canada, to rally support in Kelowna

The PPC has 36,000 member and plans to run candidates in all 338 ridings

Update: RCMP confirm body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Big Sugar headlines Gonzo Okanagan tournament and festival

The second annual event will take place June 14

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Salmon Arm inventor creates rooftop sprinklers to protect from wildfires

The Water Winger can be placed at the peak of a roof without climbing a ladder

Video: South Okanagan business owner distraught over thefts

Video shows two suspects enter the Penticton store

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

Kelowna History: Street name origins

Have you ever wondered who the streets were named after?

Most Read