Masters 2022: Tiger Woods’ challenge fades, Scotty

Tiger Woods’ hopes of a triumphant return from career-threatening injuries evaporated on the greens at the Augusta Nationals on Saturday, while Scotty Scheffler seized the three-stroke Masters lead. Woods, 14 months away from a car accident that left him so seriously injured he feared he might lose his right leg, saw his hopes of a surprise return for the sixth green jacket become his highest ever. Bad Masters came undone with the round, a six- 78 across. The fact that the 46-year-old was able to complete it – and made his 22nd consecutive Masters cut – was astonishing.

But at nine from Scheffler’s lead to start the day, Woods knew he needed something sensational to stand a chance on Sunday, and instead he shot as an amateur in early 1996. Posted a round worse than the third round 77.

“It’s like I hit a thousand putts on the greens today,” said Woods, whose prior mastery of Augusta’s forgiving, wavy greens helped him clinch five Masters titles.

“I felt like I didn’t really hit it that bad, but I had four three-puts and one four-put,” Woods said. “I just couldn’t feel it.”

Woods’ seven-over total of 223 put him 16 strokes behind Schaeffler, who survived the drama in the 18th and carded a one-under par 71 for a nine-under total of 207.

The 25-year-old Texan took a three-shot lead over Australian Cameron Smith in the final round.

On a cold, windy day where the score soared, Smith carded the only round in the 60s for 210 with a four-under par 68.

Smith was two strokes in front of third-placed South Korean Im Sung-jae, who shot an under-71.

But, once again, Woods came into the limelight.

A three-put on the opening hole proved to be a forerunner, a birdie on the other – where his shot from a greenside bunker barely missed finding the cup for the Eagles – proved to be only a short respite.

From the fairway on fifth, Woods left himself 65 feet, and he could only watch in disbelief as his three-foot bogey effort circled the cup and stayed up.

Bogies in ninth and 11th places followed, followed by a 14-foot birdie in 12th and a two-put birdie from 27 feet on par-five 13th.

Thousands of people who followed Woods’ every move tried to pursue him, cheering and cheering on every hole, but he bogeyed his rounds 16 and 17 and closed with another double-bogie at the end.

While Woods admitted on Thursday that making his first competitive round in 17 months was a victory of sorts, he made it clear he would look for better things on Sunday, such as leveling himself again.

Woods was hardly the only one struggling in cold, foggy conditions, where the scoring average was 74.5 shots and only seven players were par for the tournament after 54 holes.

Ireland’s 2019 British Open champion Shane Lowry and 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzell both drew a par 73 to share fourth place at two-under 214.

Schaeffler Shrub Drama

Schaeffler was from 10-under to hole 17 when his tee shot on 18 hit a tree branch and ended up in the thick underground on the left side of the fairway.

It took a concerted search to find his ball and the position he took after ramming into the bushes and seeing the unmistakable lie, belted a shot up to the green and narrowed the damage to a bogey.

“We saw the guy who always gets the balls sort of panic. I thought, ‘Oh crap,'” Scheffler said.

“It was important to just get it out of the bush and try to make my five,” said Schaeffler, who said his heart rate went up “when he didn’t get the ball, but when he found it it went back down. ”

It was the dramatic end of a round that included half a dozen birdies and five bogeys, with Scheffler maintaining an air of orderly calm throughout.

“You hate to bogey the last hole, but the way I bogged it down, it definitely felt like a par,” Scheffler said. “Definitely a good end to the day.”

Smith finished second behind Dustin Johnson in 2020, when he became the only player in his 60s to shoot four rounds at the Masters.

The Australian said playing within himself in challenging conditions was the key to his period.

“I didn’t try to crush any of the drivers to the tee. I just tried to give myself the opportunity,” said Smith, who added the hardest part of the day for him was, “keeping my hands warm. “

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“It was brutal. I think with this westerly wind there aren’t a lot of holes off the tee that you get straight downwind or straight into the wind.

“You get a lot of crosswinds and it can be quite difficult in the greens to hit different shapes and try to judge the wind as well.”

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