Tiger’s epic comeback resumes as Scheffler targets Masters title

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Augusta (United States) (AFP) – Tiger Woods started the final round of the Masters on Sunday and resumed his incredible comeback after serious leg injuries, with a routine par as leader Scottie Scheffler went for his first major title.

Woods, who started with bogeys in the second and third rounds at Augusta National, teeed off in front of thousands of fans as his efforts stole the show at golf’s first major tournament of the year.

His opening tee shot was left of the fairway, but the 46-year-old medical marvel landed his approach 29 feet from the hole and hit two putts for par.

The 15-time major champion arrived in Augusta chasing a record sixth Masters crown 14 months after a car accident left him wondering if his right leg should be amputated.

After weeks of hospitalization and months unable to walk, Woods rehabilitated his battered body and returned to high-flying competition on the same course where he won his first major title 25 years earlier, his right leg braced by metal rods, pins, plates and screws. .

The buzz around Woods and his incredible effort grew after he shot a par 71 from one under in his first round. He was still in contention after a 74 on Friday after making his 22nd straight Masters cut, one on the all-time record.

But on Saturday, Woods dropped to 78 – his worst Masters run – in cold, windy conditions, unable to recapture the touch that once dazzled fans around the world.

“I felt like I didn’t really hit him that badly, but I had four three-putts and one four-putt,” Woods said. “I just couldn’t have an idea.”

Woods, who stood 16 shots clear of Scheffler on a par 223 seven-for-54 hole, said his goal for the final round would be to reach normal level for the tournament, which would require a stunning 65 on his first attempt since his accident. to play 18 holes for a fourth consecutive day.

That would match his all-time lowest Masters tally, knocked down in the third round of his 1997 and 2005 wins.

Scheffler at the controls

Meanwhile, world number one Scheffler put himself in a position to win the green jacket and a $2.7 million top prize on a $15 million purse with a major triumph.

The 25-year-old American won his first US PGA title at the Phoenix Open in February, added another last month at Bay Hill and overtook Spaniard Jon Rahm for the top of the standings by winning the crown WGC Match Play two weeks ago.

Scheffler was nine under 207 after 54 holes, three strokes ahead of Australian Cameron Smith, winner of the Players Championship last month. Smith was a 2020 Masters runner-up when he became the first player to shoot four shots in the ’60s at Augusta National the same year.

Smith and Scheffler were due to start in the final duos at 2:40 p.m. (6:40 p.m. GMT).

South Korea’s Im Sung-jae, day one leader and another 2020 Masters runner-up, finished third out of 212 with Ireland’s Shane Lowry, 2019 British Open champion, and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, 2011 Masters winner , tying for fourth place out of 214. .

Canadian Corey Conners and American Justin Thomas, winner of the 2017 PGA Championship, were eight behind Scheffler on 215.

To capture the green jacket, Thomas and Conners would have to match the biggest last-round comeback in Masters history, Jack Burke’s eight-stroke fight in 1956.

Scheffler could become just the fifth player to win the Masters while sitting atop the world rankings, matching the feats of Welshman Ian Woosnam and Americans Woods, Dustin Johnson and Fred Couples.

Scheffler could also become the first player to win four times in six PGA starts since Australian Jason Day in 2015 and the first to win a major after winning his last tune-up event since Jordan Spieth in 2017 at the Travelers Championship. and at the British Open.

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