Tiger one behind Molinari at Masters
AUGUSTA, Georgia: Tiger Woods, seeking his 15th major title and first since 2008, trailed reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari by one stroke heading to the back nine in Sunday’s dramatic final round of the Masters.
Woods, a four-time Masters winner who last won at Augusta National in 2005, was 12-under making the turn in quest of a $2.07 million (1.82 million euros) top prize and the green jacket symbolizing Masters supremacy.
World number 12 Woods trickled a delicate 70-foot downhill putt to a halt inches from the cup for a par at the ninth while Molinari sank a tricky six-footer for par to stay in front. Americans Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka, last year’s US Open and PGA Championship winner, shared third on 11-under.
The 43-year-old American superstar, back on form after 2017 spinal fusion surgery following years of nagging back pain, was the clear crowd favorite at Augusta National, spectators roaring as he kept the pressure on Italy’s Molinari.
Molinari could become only the fifth man to win the Masters green jacket in the year after taking the Claret Jug, joining Woods, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballesteros. Molinari owned the 54-hole lead on 13-under par 203 with Woods and Finau, trying to become the fifth consecutive first-time major winner at the Masters, starting two strokes behind.
Woods sank an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-4 third but lipped out a 10-footer for par at the par-3 sixth, leaving Molinari still ahead by two.
Woods took his fourth bogey of the week at the par-4 fifth, the course’s hardest scoring hole, and Finau bogeyed as well while Molinari sank an eight-foot par putt and stretched his lead to three shots.
Molinari dodged trouble at the par-3 sixth, driving over the green but making a six-foot par save while Woods missed an 11-foot birdie putt.
Woods broke through at the par-4 seventh, landing his approach two feet from the cup to set up a birdie while Molinari found trees left and missed an 11-foot par putt, his edge on Woods slashed to a single shot.
It also ended Molinari’s run of 49 consecutive Masters holes at par or better, one shy of the tournament record set by Australia’s Stuart Appleby in 2001.
Molinari and Woods escaped trouble to each birdie the par-5 eighth, Woods after going over the green and Molinari after finding a bunker off the tee.
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