Tiger Woods has played very well in his first two rounds at the 2013 Masters. I know this not because he's three shots off Jason Day's lead (which he is) but because of the way he's scoring on the course.
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Woods only has three bogeys through 36 holes of play and he shouldn't really have that many (we'll get to that in a minute).
According to Justin Ray of ESPN, the fewest bogeys Woods had ever made through 36 holes at Augusta before today was also three, back in 2002, and he went on to win that tournament.
He's just not making the mistakes we've seen from him in the recent past at major championships. He didn't have his "A-game" on Friday but he did what we've become accustomed to Woods doing at majors as he ground out a really nice 1-under 71.
Woods talked to ESPN about his round:
"I felt like I played really well today, a round that should have been in the 60s. I really played well today. My score doesn't indicate how well I played today."
There was a sense that he let a quality round slip through his hands a little bit but there weren't exactly 66s and 65s being thrown up all over the place.
Three shots on this course with the weekend ahead, well, it's nothing.
The birdies and eagles aren't flowing, but they will, and when they do (potentially tomorrow?), the rest of your 2013 Masters field is going to be in trouble.
Woods birdied No. 5, No. 7 and No. 8 on the front nine on Friday and played mostly even-par golf on the back nine. He made great par saves on Nos. 12, 14 and 16 after missing the green on all three holes.
Fellow PGA Tour pro Aaron Oberholser tweeted something that I'm sure is a sentiment among many of Woods' competitors:
Oh boy. If tiger is going to make those par putts like he did at 12 and 14 the field is in trouble. As if they weren't already.— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) April 12, 2013
Shortly after Oberholser tweeted that, Woods hit his third shot on the par-5 No. 15 from 75 yards into the pin and it bounced backward into the water. He dropped another ball from basically the same spot and knocked it to 3 feet before putting out for bogey.
After his round Woods told ESPN about the shot off the pin:
"I was pretty pissed."
It was a putrid break but, well, if Woods is hitting pins the rest of the weekend, he's not going to have to worry about dropping that one shot.
Woods went on to bogey No. 18 with his first three-putt ever on that hole.
And as Dan Jenkins pointed out, we might look back at Woods' Friday back nine and say it won him his fifth Masters:
The par saves at 12, 14 and 16 and the bogey save at 15 might be what win the Masters for Tiger. At least they've kept him from losing it.— Dan Jenkins (@danjenkinsgd) April 12, 2013
Friday, Woods mostly executed part two of the formula I outlined last week for him to win the Masters. He put himself in contention in round one and went low in round two (71 was the third-best score in the field today at the time he finished).
If he backs up those two rounds up with another gem on Saturday, Sunday could be all-Tiger.
Of course there are a lot of quality, experienced golfers trying to keep him from doing that.
I'm most intrigued by what Snedeker does on Saturday. He can get as hot as anyone on Tour with his putter. Stick him on the back nine on Sunday with a shot and we could be in for some fireworks.
We didn't see many fireworks from Woods on Friday but, strangely, that's what might propel him to the green jacket on Sunday.