Competition will now begin at 7:30 a.m. ET and feature threesomes rather than pairings (the first time thats ever happened in a final round here). Groups will start from both the first and ninth tee (those in contention will go from one and finish on 18, per usual). The leaders are expected to tee off at 9:20 a.m. CBSs broadcast will begin at 9.
A victory on Sunday would be Woods fifth at Augusta National, leaving him second behind six-times champion Jack Nicklaus, but to do so he will have to pull off something he has never done before – come from behind in the final round to win a major.
That final grouping will include Tiger, who shot a 67 on a hot, muggy Saturday afternoon to come in at 11-under. Hell join leader Francesco Molinari (13-under) and Tony Finau, who stroked a 64, one short of the course record, to also finish at 11-under.
Italian Molinari, who leads the way on 13-under 203, is unlikely to be intimidated by Woods, after staring down and overtaking the American en route to winning last years British Open at Carnoustie, where they were paired in the final round.
Tiger has won 14 major championships, including four Masters. Hes never won any of them when he wasnt in the final group on Sunday. In this case, thats a weather-related bonus (if it was a pairing, hed have been the second-to-last group due to when he finished on Saturday), not that it really matters.
Its always a great tournament whenever Tiger is in the mix, and hes 100 percent in the mix right now, Finau said. Its going to be a Masters to remember, I know that for sure.
The entire scene on Sunday should be incredible, a complete free-for-all with a star-studded leaderboard. Saturday was a brilliant day of golf, with 10 different players, including Tiger, holding at least a share of the lead at some point. Finau was one of just three 64s, and that group includes Webb Simpson, who pushed his way to 9-under and in contention.
Coffee shop encounter leads to once-in-a-lifetime trip to Masters
Tiger grinded his round out, six birdies and just one bogey as he played mostly error-free golf to the delight of his typical monster gallery. At this point, Tiger is something akin to a traveling circus, waves and waves of fans spreading out across multiple holes in an effort to watch him play and cheer him on. This isnt just polite golf cheers, this is loud and bold, thousands pleading and pushing him on to something that no one was certain would ever be possible again.
At age 43, Tigers career has been derailed multiple times with injuries, personal foibles, legal issues and so on. He didnt even play in three of the last five Masters and famously hasnt won a major since 2008.
As he strolled up 18 Saturday, the moment was lost on no one – not the roaring fans and not even Tiger himself. He seemed to bask in the cheers rolling down the hill and into the fairway as he smiled widely and repeatedly acknowledged the crowd.
“Its been a while since Ive been in contention here,” Tiger said. “But then again, the last two majors count for something. Ive been in the mix … so that helps.”
To make Sunday truly magical, planting his name alongside Jack Nicklaus here in 1986 for late-career improbable Masters glory, Woods is going to have to earn it. Hes never won a major when he didnt lead after 54 holes and Molinari was showing no signs of fading. Meanwhile, a dream pack of contenders is right there ready to charge.
Five of the top seven on the leaderboard have won majors (Molinari, Woods, Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson and Dustin Johnson). Finau, meanwhile, just carded a 64, and Ian Poulter is considered one of the best players in the world to not have a major.
All eyes will be on Woods, though. How can they not be? His game was unexpectedly resurrected last summer when he contended for both the British Open and PGA Championship. The Masters has always been his playground, though, and even fellow golfers are excited with the prospect of Tiger, wearing his signature red, back at Augusta National with a chance to win.
Oh, man, it would be an unbelievable thing for me, and something that Ive dreamed of for a long time, Finau said of getting to play in a final group with Tiger. As a kid, I always wanted to compete against him and have the opportunity. … Ive dreamed of playing in the final group with him in a major championship.
I knew the numbers. Augusta National has a membership of about 300, including some of the most influential people on earth. Membership is by invitation only and there is no application process. Exclusive? Exclusive doesn’t cut it.
Thats going to happen. Earlier than normal, with an unusual setup played against the pending rain and storms.
The weather is supposed to get Biblical on Sunday afternoon around here, so Sunday morning service at Augusta is set.
I asked why she felt compelled to give me this gift, and she said she saw in me how much I appreciated the Masters. “I want to honor my husband’s memory by sharing it with you.”
Tiger Woods reacts to his birdie putt on the 15th hole during the second round for the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 12, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. ((AP Photo/David J. Phillip))
in Augusta, Georgia on Friday, when an over-enthusiastic security guard slipped and rolled up on his ankle, nearly taking the golf superstar out of the 2019 Masters tournament.
Tiger had just hit a beautiful second shot from the rough, angling it through the trees and onto the 14th green, as a crowd of spectators surrounded him. After the shot, security tried to create a barrier between Tiger and the lively crowd, but wet conditions impacted one of the guard’s footing.
He fell, swiping the leg of a surprised Tiger who was trying to get a visual of where his shot went. The golf superstar grimaced and appeared to be limping afterwards. The other security guards and event staff could be seen giving the one in question a look of “what have you done?”
Remember 1986 when 46 year old Jack Nicklaus took on the best of the young guns Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman and showed them whos boss? Perhaps 43 year old Woods is about to come up with the most fitting of sequels, as he takes on the mighty Open Champion Frankie Molinari, current double major winner Brooks Koepka and gifted young gunslinger, Tony Finau.
After the incident, Tiger stretched his leg to test how badly he was injured. He appeared to shake it off, to the relief of everyone involved, laughing it off with his caddy a few moments later.
I think the US Open experience will serve me well and I can use it to my advantage, for sure, he said. Finau suffered his dislocated ankle while celebrating a hole-in-one in the par three on the eve of the Masters, but it didnt sour his experience. I just loved this course from the start, I felt instantly that it was right up my alley, he said.
He then went to the green and sank a 15-foot birdie, giving the security guard a second chance at life.
“Well, he made birdie, so I guess it all worked out,” the security guard told GOLF.com, shaking his head. “Man, I am really glad he made birdie.”
Finau might be surrounded by proven Grand Slam winners but he showed last year that he looks like a major winner in waiting himself. He played in the final group at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills alongside Koepka, eventually finishing tied fifth – one of three top tens that he made in the majors and he also made the cut in the other.
“Accidents happen and you move on,” Woods said after his round. "I've had galleries run over me – when you play in front of a lot of people, things happen. But it's all good."
After the round, Tiger wanted to talk about his missed putting opportunities, rather than the crazy incident. He missed chances within 10 feet on the 12th, 17th and 18th holes.
"I missed a few putts out there, but I'm not too bummed out about it, because I hit them on my lines," Woods said. "I can live with that. I can live with days when I'm hitting putts on my lines and they just don't go in. That's the way it goes.
With the incident behind him, he’s looking to win his first major in 11 years. He placed second in the PGA Championship last year.
Tiger finished the round with a 4-under 68, to give him 6-under for the championship, just a stroke behind leaders Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Day, Adam Scott and Brooks Koepka.
Injuries have made the star look human in recent years, but many are hoping this Masters tournament will mark his long overdue comeback. Wood’s last Masters victory came in 2005.
"This is now three straight majors I've been in the mix, so it's good stuff," he added. "I feel like I've played my way back into the tournament. It felt very good to be out there doing what I'm doing."