No.1 Scheffler seizes Masters lead as Tiger grinds out record

AUGUSTA: World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler grabbed a one-stroke lead late in Friday's second round of the 88th Masters while Tiger Woods made a record 24th consecutive cut at Augusta National.

Scheffler, the 2022 Masters winner, sank a five-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th hole to reach six-under for the tournament with seven holes remaining in blustery conditions.

Scheffler could join Woods as the only players to win the Masters twice while atop the rankings.

Fellow Americans Max Homa, seeking his first major title, and Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion, shared second on six-under 138, Homa firing a second-round 71 and DeChambeau, the 18-hole leader, closing with a bogey to shoot 73.

"It was very difficult out there," DeChambeau said. "It was a good challenge. I had to back off quite a few times. I've never experienced anything like this out here at Augusta National before."

Homa birdied two of the first four holes and made his lone bogey at 11.

"I struck the ball really well," Homa said. "I've really done everything quite well on the golf course, but most proud of our course management and just controlling thoughts and expectation and all that."

Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard, among 20 Masters newcomers trying for the first rookie win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979, closed with back-to-back bogeys to fire a 73 in fierce winds to stand fourth on 140.

"It's really tricky," Hojgaard said. "Wind is swirling. It's gusting. There are some tough shots."

DeChambeau sank a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th and another from 14 feet at the par-5 13th to reach eight-under, but stumbled with bogeys at 14 and 18 and missed a six-foot birdie putt at 17.

"Very satisfied," DeChambeau said. "Just need to do more of the same."

Woods, meanwhile, grinded out a dramatic 23-hole walk into Masters history, making the low-50 and ties to break the old Masters cut streak record he shared with Gary Player and Fred Couples.

"(I'll) text Freddy and give him a little needle," Woods said.

Woods, a 15-time major champion, finished 36 holes on one-over par 145, shooting 72 in round two after two bogeys in five holes to complete a first-round 73 following storms that kept him from finishing on Thursday.

Woods has struggled to walk rounds since suffering severe leg injuries in a 2021 car crash, but went to practice after his hefty walk.

"Just need some food and some caffeine, and I'll be good to go," Woods said.

The five-time Masters champion was talking of a sixth green jacket to match the record set by Jack Nicklaus.

"It means I have a chance going into the weekend," Woods said of making the cut. "I have a chance to win the golf tournament.

He made a believer of Homa, who saw no signs of Woods physical issues.

"He's swinging it great," Homa said of Woods. "He's moving well and he's controling the ball."

The walk across a hilly 7,555-yard layout became an emotional spectacle as fans cheered Woods at every hole, hoping to witness one more amazing feat on a course where the 48-year-old US legend won his first major in 1997 and most recent in 2019 in a comeback from multiple back operations.

Woods also was playing his first major since right ankle fusion surgery last April due to injuries from the accident.

Woods, who only missed the Masters cut in 1996 as an amateur, endured a roller-coaster second round with four birdies and four bogeys, three of each on the front nine.

"I was forced to get up-and-down a few times and I was able to do that," Woods said.

"I'm tired. I've been out for a while, competing, grinding. It has been a long 23 holes, a long day."

The best shots by Woods were a hole-out from 27 feet for birdie at the par-3 sixth and answering a second bogey of the day at 14 by driving the green in two at the par-5 15th and tapping in for birdie.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who needs a victory to complete a career grand slam, made a double bogey at 11 to stand 3-over for the tournament with six holes remaining. -- AFP

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