Woods and McIlroy on the march

Published: Saturday 11th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy moved ominously up the leaderboard to give runaway leader Jordan Spieth more to think about in the 79th Masters on Saturday.

Spieth’s halfway total of 130 not only set a new Masters record but also equalled the lowest 36-hole total in major championship history and, at 14 under par, was the lowest in relation to par in any major.

The 21-year-old is the fourth player to have a five-shot lead at this stage of the year’s first major after Herman Keiser (1946), Jack Nicklaus (1975) and Ray Floyd (1976), all of whom went on to win.

Floyd was also the last man to hold the outright lead in each round, although former champion Trevor Immelman shared the first-round lead in 2008 and led on his own from then on.

With 15 birdies and just one bogey over the first two days Spieth had shown no signs of cracking under the pressure, but the world number four will not have relished seeing Woods and McIlroy join Phil Mickelson in the chasing pack.

Woods, whose last Masters victory was 10 years ago, had refused to give up hope of wiping out his 12-shot deficit to Spieth and made the ideal start with a hat-trick of birdies from the second, from a combined distance of less than nine feet.

Further chances went begging from just four feet on the sixth and 10 feet on the seventh before Woods recorded his fourth birdie of the day on the par-five eighth to move to six under.

World number one McIlroy was going even better thanks to an eagle from 40 feet on the second, a two-putt birdie on the eighth and another birdie from seven feet on the ninth, the hole which cost him a double bogey on Friday in a front nine of 40.

The 25-year-old followed that with another two-putt birdie on the par-five 13th to move to seven under par and get within seven shots of Spieth, who had birdied the second but three-putted the fourth for just his second bogey of the week.

Mickelson had moved alongside Charley Hoffman into second place on nine under, the left-hander picking up shots on the second, third and fourth.

Woods hit a dreadful snap hook off the 13th tee, letting go of his club in the process and also letting slip an audible obscenity which forced television commentators to apologise.

The ball only travelled 175 yards but did not find Rae’s Creek and allowed Woods to play out onto the fairway and hit his approach to 15 feet to set up the unlikeliest of birdies.

That took the four-time Masters champion to seven under par and back alongside McIlroy, who had birdied the 15th but failed to get up and down from right of the 16th to card his first bogey of the day.

Spieth had responded to his bogey on the fourth with a birdie on the sixth, only to bogey the next after finding a bunker with his approach.

Published: Saturday 11th April 2015 by The News Editor

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