Tiger Woods had to do a lot of scrambling on the way to today's 2-under-par 70 at the Masters, but the round was good enough to move him up the leaderboard.
By the time Woods rolled home his 2 1/2-foot par putt at No. 18 he had moved up into a tie for third – trailing only English pros Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, who share the 36-hole lead at eight-under-par 136. Woods recorded only one bogey all day, coming after he pulled his tee shot well left at the long par-3 fourth hole.
Scoring conditions were tougher in general during the second round, as Augusta National officials went with a more challenging setup. Tees were back in their usual positions after several were moved up yesterday in anticipation of potential bad weather. It never materialized, with Woods among 16 players to break 70.
Today, though, only three players were better than 2-under on their rounds at the time Woods completed his round.
Woods reached the Masters midpoint at 6-under 138 – his third-best 36-hole total in 16 Masters starts. Poulter was the early clubhouse leader with his second consecutive 68, with Westwood taking the lead at nine under for a brief period before settling for a three-under 69.
Tied with Woods at six under for the tournament are Ricky Barnes (70), Anthony Kim (70), K.J. Choi (71) and Phil Mickelson (71).
Woods had to save par on three of his first seven holes, getting off to an auspicious start when he pulled his opening drive into the pines left of the No. 1 fairway. He still made the turn at even-par, then picked up strokes with birdies at the back nine's two par-5s – Nos. 13 and 15.
Even those didn't come without a couple of anxious moments – he pitched well short of the pin after laying up at No. 13 and had to drain a 16-footer, then saw his pitch at No. 15 catch a sprinkler cutout and leave him a 15-foot birdie.
Birdie chances came easier at the next two holes, but he failed to capitalize. Facing a 10-foot birdie at the par-3 16th, Woods' putt didn't break as much to the right as he'd hoped. Another from similar length at No. 17 also burned the cup's edge.
-- Jeff Shain
Photo: Tiger Woods. Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images.