Glimpse of Tiger's magic again looks a false dawn

History suggests that Tiger Woods will not win the 75th Masters today. Famously, Woods was leading or tied for the lead after three rounds of all his 14 major victories. For all the ominous warnings of his second-round charge on Friday, Woods dropped off the leaderboard last night.

Nothing could be quite so simple with the former world No 1, of course. It is hardly like Rory McIlroy and the others ahead of Woods will be ruling him out. But after a 66 on Friday, his best score at Augusta since a 65 during his last Masters win in 2005, Woods could manage only a 74 yesterday to lie seven behind the young Northern Irishman.

As he attempts to rehabilitate his game and his reputation, there have been flashes from Woods before, notably a 66 in the third round of the US Open last year which led to nothing on the final day. Was Friday's outrageous burst of seven birdies in 11 holes just another flash in the pan?

Yesterday Tiger struggled to maintain the momentum. His long game was solid, not quite as precise as on Friday but certainly without the horrors that have punctuated his game this year. But on the greens nothing went his way. There have been times this season when it seemed he would never hole a crucial putt again. Some of his misses were shocking.

There was some of the old assurance on Friday, particularly when he slotted home a 12-footer on the 18th. In the third round, his stroke still looked good but he lipped out several times. A three-putt at the 11th cost a bogey, another at the 15th meant missing out on what has been an automatic birdie over the years.

A banana-shot approach around the trees at the 15th had been a rare sign of the old genius but the more the 35-year-old pushed to get back into contention, the less he achieved. Woods remains a work in progress and despite all the changes to he is making with new swing coach Sean Foley, the ultimate test is being able to trust his game under severe pressure with a major on the line. Only then will we, and he, know more about the state of his mind and game.

It is a sign of the times that it took a blistering run on Friday for Woods to become part of the narrative. The 75th Masters had plenty of storylines but for a day and a half Woods was not one of them. There were the new young guns leading the charge, with Rory McIlroy becoming the youngest halfway leader since Woods himself 14 years ago. There were the new monster hitters, led by the engaging Spaniard Alvaro Quiros. There was the 51-year-old Fred Couples and British interest from Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.

And the heart-warming story of Hideki Matsuyama, who is 19 and got here by winning the Asian Amateur last year. The only amateur to make the cut, he added a 68 and will feature in the Butler Cabin ceremony tonight. A student at Fukushi University at Sendai, the earthquake and tsunami could not have hit closer to home.

There was little conviction about Tiger's prospects at the halfway stage, although Foley was typically upbeat. "You're going to start seeing him playing shots that he hasn't hit in a long time," he said. "He's already put the pieces together. Now he's going to go play golf."

Woods said: "I'm just trying to put myself in the mix on Sunday. It's irrelevant who is there. My whole job is to give myself a chance with nine holes to go. I've been successful in the past by doing it that way."

Until he has a fifth Green Jacket and a 15th major title tonight, no one is willing to say that Woods is back. He will have to do it the hard way. No one, least of all the kids who were inspired by watching his 1997 Masters demolition, is prepared to hand him the title without a darn good fight.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people Ex-wife of John Lennon has died at her home in Spain
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?