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The Masters 2024: Tiger Woods faces fresh physical test and marathon Friday after delays at Augusta National


The Masters 2024: Tiger Woods faces fresh physical test and marathon Friday after delays at Augusta National

Tiger Woods will put his body through its toughest physical test in many years when he faces a marathon Friday at another weather-affected edition of The Masters.

Woods was given a late-early draw for the first two rounds at the Augusta National, where a two-and-a-half-hour delay due to adverse weather saw him not tee off with Jason Day and Max Homa until 3.54pm local time (8.54pm BST).

The later start meant that Woods was only able to complete 13 holes before play was suspended due to darkness, leaving the 15-time major champion having to play 23 on Friday as he looks to make a record-breaking 24th consecutive cut at The Masters.

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It will be first time Woods has played more than 18 holes on the same day in tournament competition since November 2019, when he played 29 holes during a lengthy Sunday ahead of completing a record-equalling 82nd PGA Tour title the following day.

There were encouraging signs from his efforts through 13 holes on Thursday, however, with the five-time winner of The Masters heading into day two on one under and six off the lead. .

In hugely testing, windy conditions on the opening day, Woods carded birdies at the par-four first and par-five eighth, with his one bogey coming at the par-three fourth, while some fine wedge work late in the day prevented any further dropped shots.

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"It was one of the most tricky days that I've ever been a part of," Woods told reporters. "The wind was all over the place. It was hard to get a beat not only on what direction it was going, but the intensity, and it kept switching. It was a very difficult day."

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Bryson DeChambeau holds a one-shot lead over Scottie Scheffler after day one, setting the clubhouse target with a seven-under 65 after a run of five birdies in a six-hole stretch.

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World No 1 Scheffler, looking to win his second Green Jacket in three years, earned himself solo second with a brilliant bogey-free 66.

While Woods is a little off the pace in terms of his scoring, Dame Laura Davies was encouraged by what she saw from the 48-year-old, telling Sky Sports: "It was a fantastic effort.

"We weren't worried about his golf - he'd been hitting it well on the range all week - but could he walk round the course? He looked really solid. By the end of the day, he was still striding out.

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"He only hit seven of 13 greens, but his short game really saved him... it was mustard today. He had some really difficult chips and handled them beautifully on 11 and 12, getting up and down and saving pars.

"If he can get a couple early tomorrow, three under or two under would be a great start for Tiger."

As for the challenge that awaits him, Woods said: "We're going to warm up and just kind of head down there and start our round. It will be pretty much almost like between 20 and 30 minutes in between rounds, so it'll be a natural flow from the finish of the first round and continuation of the second."

He added: "The body is okay. We've got some work to do yet tonight."

There is no threat of thunderstorms for any of the next three days, with temperatures considerably warmer than Woods experienced when he was forced to withdraw mid-round from last year's tournament.

The strong winds are set to continue into Friday, where the first round will need to be completed, although conditions over the weekend are warmer and calmer.

"Slightly cooler and less humid conditions return Friday with mostly sunny skies and highs in the low 70s," a weather update from tournament officials said on Thursday. "It will continue to be windy out of the west 15-20 gusting to 30 mph throughout the day.

"After a cool start Saturday morning, temperatures will rebound nicely this weekend with highs in the upper 70s Saturday and low to mid 80s on Sunday, with plentiful sunshine."

Since finishing tied-38th in his title defence at The Masters in November 2020, Woods has made just seven competitive appearances and only completed 72 holes three times during that period.

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Injury has severely limited how frequently he has been able to compete in recent years, with Woods withdrawing ahead of his final round at the 2022 PGA Championship and again ahead of the final day last year at Augusta.

Woods also pulled out mid-tournament from the Genesis Invitational in February, with the former world No 1 admitting ahead of this week that his game and his body 'wasn't ready' to tee it up elsewhere on the PGA Tour ahead of The Masters.

Woods said pre-tournament that he felt he could win one more major title, if 'everything comes together', while a sixth Masters victory would see him match Jack Nicklaus' all-time total at Augusta.

"Tiger [Woods] is quite capable of winning," Nicklaus said in his press conference on Thursday.

"I said in here [press building] 20 years ago - Tiger had a chance to win more than Arnold [Palmer] and I had put together, and that would have been 10 [Masters titles]. You know, he probably would have if he had not been injured.

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"I think he's got a tough way to go to win. I think he'll certainly hit the ball well enough to do so. Whether he physically can handle what has to happen with it, and he's also got to be able to score better than everybody else, too. He's a very special, talented athlete, and I wish him well."

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29 of May 2024