Relief for Tiger Woods as he lives to fight another two days at Masters | Tiger Woods

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Trees may have fallen, but an idol did not. Spectators still reeling from the astonishing Friday afternoon episode when a trio of Georgia pines crashed to the turf were at least cheered by the survival of Tiger Woods for this major’s closing 36 holes.

Woods maintained a superb record of never missing a Masters cut as a professional, a streak that now extends to 23. He has tied Gary Player and Fred Couples at that figure, a tournament record. Incredibly, Couples also made it into the delayed round three at cold, rain-soaked Augusta. Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas were among those to bow out as Woods and Couples rolled back the years. The Masters really is all about tradition.

Woods returned at the 12th tee on Saturdaymorning to complete round two. Which is hardly the softest of starts. The 15-times major winner played a sublime iron to within five feet of the cup. His birdie opportunity slid by. “I hit just a terrible putt,” he said. “I pulled it.”

Woods picked up a shot at the 15th to move comfortably inside the cut line. Drama – typically – followed. Woods dropped shots at the 17th and 18th to leave a nervous wait at three over par.

The terrible finish of Thomas, a close friend of Woods, helped the 47-year-old. Thomas played his closing four holes in three over, meaning a 78 and a plus four total. Thomas exited stage left as Woods, who has been in clear physical distress all week, earned a third-round tee time. To his credit, he appeared perfectly happy about that despite dipping temperatures and his aching body.

“I’ve always loved this course and I love playing this event,” he said. “I’ve missed a couple with some injuries, but I’ve always wanted to play here. I’ve loved it. I hope I get a chance to play this weekend. I’m sorry. I got a chance to play on the weekend. I wish I get a chance to play two more rounds.” His wish was to be granted.

Augusta National’s own prayers were answered. The epic level of rain forecast for Saturday yesterday failed to materialise meaning a Sunday finish should be feasible. The tournament committee implemented a two-tee start and three balls for the third round as a means to catch up on time lost when play was halted on Friday afternoon. Curiously, given the lucky escape by spectators, nothing more was said about the incident when the trees toppled between the 15th and 17th holes.

Fred Couples acknowledges the crowd after making the cut.
Fred Couples acknowledges the crowd after making the cut. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

Couples finished two shots ahead of Woods, at plus two, to ease into the closing half of the tournament. At 63 years, six months and five days, Couples is the oldest player to make a Masters cut. “There really isn’t a secret,” he said. “Everyone loves this place. That doesn’t mean you’re going to play well. If I hit it really solid, I’m a good iron player.

“Yesterday, a couple of the bogeys I made, I fatted an eight iron on the seventh with a pretty easy shot, thinking maybe I should have hit nine. But it was a little funky little lie. Then I flew it on 17 about four feet from the hole and it bounced over. Most people would have gotten them up and down. I bogeyed both of those holes. Other than that, besides butchering 13, I hit most of the greens and I had a few birdie chances.

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“I am excited to make the cut. That’s why I come here. The last four years have been really mediocre golf. Maybe one year I was semi close to making the cut. But that’s my objective and I did it. It’s not like ‘Ha, ha, ha. Now I can screw around and play 36 holes for fun.’ I’m going to try and compete.”

At the head of affairs, Jon Rahm moved within two of Brooks Koepka’s 12-under-par lead. Resuming on the 10th, Rahm played his first five holes in one under. He made a birdie four at the 15th, dropped a shot at the par three 16th, birdied again on the penultimate hole and bogeyed the last. A 69 was the sum of Rahm’s second-round efforts when all was said and done.

Confirmation that McIlroy missed the cut at five over was no surprise. The former Masters champions Sergio García, Danny Willett, Bubba Watson, Mike Weir, Bernhard Langer and Vijay Singh also departed the scene.

Adam Scott, who did make the round three draw, described the strange conditions. “I hit a three iron into 18 and I only had 186 yards to the front,” he said. “It didn’t even pitch to the front. So it’s playing long. Normally that club flies 240.”

Relief for Tiger Woods as he lives to fight another two days at Masters | Tiger Woods

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