Scheffler takes control of the Masters
Steve Keating |
World No.1 Scottie Scheffler was among the few to tame the wind-swept Augusta National, posting a second-round 67 to seize control of the Masters.
Scheffler charged five clear of the field on eight-under 136, as a battling Tiger Woods clawed his way out of early trouble to card a two-over 74 to be tied 19th heading into the weekend.
Friday’s wind gave Woods more problems than the right leg he nearly lost in a career-threatening car crash as he took bogeys on four of his five opening holes.
It threatened to derail the comeback that has captivated golf fans around the world, but the 46-year-old’s famous fight surfaced in time to put him one-over heading into Saturday’s third round and nine back of front-running Scheffler.
“I got back in the ball game,” said Woods. “I’m four shots back at second. That’s the thing.”
“But Scottie is running away with it right now.”
“Tomorrow is going to be tough. It’s going to be windy. It’s going to be cool.”
“It’s going to be the Masters that I think the Masters Committee has been looking forward to for a number of years.
“We haven’t had it like this. It’s going to be exciting, and it’s going to be fun for all of us.”
With three wins in his last five PGA Tour starts, Scheffler showed why he is the hottest golfer on the planet, taking a bogey on his first hole then going on to post the day’s best round.
But the 25-year-old American, who took advantage of the improving afternoon conditions, cannot afford to get complacent even with a commanding five-shot lead.
He is being chased by a trio of major winners namely South African Charl Schwartzel (69) – the 2011 winner at Augusta National – 2019 British Open winner Shane Lowry (68) and defending Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (69).
Also five back is South Korea’s Im Sung-jae (74), the first round overnight leader.
“There’s still 50 guys in the field, something like that, I’m sure, and I can’t worry about what those guys are doing,” said Scheffler. “I’m just going to go out and play my game and just keep doing what I’m doing.
“Still quite a long way to go.
“It’s nice to build up a little bit of a lead, but I’m not really going to be thinking about it tonight or anything.”
As spectacular a round as Scheffler had it still was not enough to pry the spotlight away from Woods, who is playing his first competitive event in nearly 14 months.
“Tomorrow is going to be an important day with as cool and as tough as they’re predicting,” said Woods. “It’s going to be quick, and I need to go out there and put myself there.
“If you’re within five or six on that back nine going into Sunday, you’ve got a chance. So I just need to get there.”
Australia’s Cameron Smith endured a tough second round but is still in the mix despite his 74. He is tied sixth, with six shots to make up.
There will be four other Australians joining Smith on the weekend with former champion Adam Scott (74), fellow veteran Marc Leishman (75) and Masters rookies Min Woo Lee (75) and Cam Davis (73) making the cut.Reuters