AUGUSTA Ga. (Reuters) - Tiger Woods was so determined to claw his way up the Masters leaderboard on Friday that not even a security guard who nearly knocked him over when he crashed into his foot could shake his steely-eyed focus.
Woods was in the midst of a decent second round when, moments after an impressive shot through the trees to reach the 14th green, a security guard who rushed in to control a swarming crowd slipped on the rain-soaked ground and into his right foot.
The former world number one winced and walked gingerly before trying to stretch it out for a few seconds and then got back to work as he fired a four-under-par 68 to sit one shot behind of the five co-leaders.
“I’m fine. It’s all good,” said four-times Masters champion Woods, who has had his remarkable career interrupted by a number of back and knee surgeries. “Accidents happen and move on.”
Woods went on to birdie the 14th and 15th to send familiar roars through the Georgia pines and could very well have grabbed the outright lead but sent an eight-foot birdie putt at 17 just past the hole and left a 14-footer at 18 just short.
Despite the missed opportunities, Woods said he was not going to lose any sleep over the missed putts, which he said were all due to bad reads rather than bad strokes.
“I missed a few putts out there but I’m not too bummed out about it because I hit them on my lines. So I can live with that,” said Woods. “I can live with days when I’m hitting putts on my line and they just don’t go in, that’s the way it goes.”
The 14-times major champion reached the turn at one under on the day and then, right after his tee shot at the par-three 12th stuck five feet from the hole, had to wait out a 30-minute suspension in play due to lightning in the area.
When play resumed Woods, who later said he was a little bit stiff as he started swinging again, failed to convert the birdie as his putt curled around the left edge of the cup.
Woods, who finished the first round four shots back of the co-leaders, had plenty of work to do by the time he teed off in the penultimate group on Friday as several players from the early groups had already moved up the leaderboard.
“I feel like I played my own way back into the tournament,” said Woods, who is seeking his first major victory since 2008. “I was just very patient today, felt very good to be out there doing what I was doing.
“This is now three straight majors that I’ve been in the mix and so it’s good stuff.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford