Woods is proud of comeback at Masters

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press

Augusta, Ga. — It's rare Tiger Woods would shoot a 69 at the Masters — with hardly anyone noticing.

That's what happened Friday, when Woods took another impressive step in his latest comeback with a 3 under that assured he'll be back for the weekend at Augusta National — just like he has every year of his pro career.

Looking more and more confident, Woods had four birdies and stumbled only once with a bogey at the par-3 sixth hole. It was a marked improvement on his opening 73, and he looked like an entirely different player than the one who walked off the course at Torrey Pines two months ago, his body hurting and his game a mess.

"I was at a pretty low (point) in my career, and to basically change an entire pattern like that and put it together and put it in a position where I can compete in a major championship like this is something I'm very proud of," Woods said.

The way Jordan Spieth is playing, Woods likely will be nothing more than an afterthought on the weekend. He goes to the third round a dozen shots off the lead.

Still, it's a big step for Woods in his quest to break a nearly seven-year drought since he won the last of his 14 major championships.

And, of course, he'll never concede that he's out of a tournament.

"I'm still right there," Woods said. "I'm 12 back, and there's not a lot of guys ahead of me. And with 36 holes here to go, anything can happen."

Hoffman good with spot

Charley Hoffman isn't conceding anything at the Masters.

Even though Jordan Spieth will take a five-shot lead to the weekend, Hoffman said Friday he won't change his approach after posting his second straight round in the 60s. He's at 9-under 135, a score that would've given him at least a tie for the 36-hole lead eight of the last 10 years.

Not this year. Spieth is at 130, the lowest score in Masters history at the midway point.

"It's this year. It's not any other year," Hoffman said with a shrug, not sounding the least bit concerned. "We've only played 36 holes. We've got a lot of golf left."

Hoffman had a chance at a bogey-free round until he took 5 at the final hole.

Still, it was a surprising performance by a journeyman golfer once known more for his flowing, bleached mullet.

This is only the second time Hoffman has qualified for the Masters. Unless someone makes a late charge, he'll be playing in the final group Saturday with Spieth.

"I just kept to my game plan, kept trying to make birdies," Hoffman said. "You can't press on this golf course too much."

Hoffman was asked why he cut his hair, which used to be his trademark.

"Well, my hair stopped growing

Eagle nation

Dustin Johnson earned his place in Masters lore by becoming the first player to make three eagles in one round.

Johnson scored eagles on three of the par-5s: the second, eighth and 15th holes. He made a birdie on the other, the 13th, which left him with a 5-under 67 and still within reach of the leader, Spieth.

Johnson is seven strokes behind with a 7-under 137 at the halfway point.

"I feel good," Johnson said. "We've still got 36 holes of golf left. I'm playing really well. I'm making a lot of birdies. I need to limit the mistakes."

Those mistakes — most notably, a double-bogey 6 at the first hole, after a drive in the middle of the fairway — kept Johnson from posting an even lower score.

Home for the weekend

Tom Watson had hoped to set a Masters record by making the cut at age 65.

So much for that plan.

After opening with a promising 1-under 71, Watson ballooned to an 81 on Friday, one of the worst rounds of his long Augusta career. He finished up with a triple-bogey 7 at the final hole.

Also missing the cut was 55-year-old Fred Couples, who shares a Masters record of playing on the weekend in 23 consecutive appearances. He's heading home with a 9-over 153 total.

The news wasn't all bad for the over-50 crowd.

Mark O'Meara, at 58, made it to the weekend for the first time since 2005 by shooting 68 on Friday.

"I probably hit the ball as far now as I did when I played in my time," he said. "You play for your pride, too. I understand I'm 58, but I still have my health and I can still hit some quality golf shots out there."