AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods can thank good friend Justin Thomas for helping the five-time champion extend his streak of consecutive cuts made at the Masters to a record-tying 23 on Saturday.
Woods was in danger of missing it for the first time as a professional when he resumed his second round in a cold, driving rain and bogeyed his final two holes. That left Woods at 3 over and tied for 52nd, while the top 50 and ties make the cut.
Moments after Woods signed his scorecard, though, Thomas missed a short par putt at the 17th, dropping him to 3-over and bringing everyone at that number inside the cut line. Thomas then bogeyed the 18th, ensuring Woods would play the rest the weekend and match Fred Couples and Gary Player for the longest streak of cuts made at the Masters.
“I've always loved this golf course, and I love playing this event,” Woods said before Thomas finished. “I hope I get a chance to play this weekend — I’m sorry, I got a chance to play on the weekend. I wish I get a chance to play two more rounds.”
Woods got his wish — and may have regretted it later when, sopping wet, he was 6 over through seven holes in his third round and play was called for the rest of Saturday. Meanwhile, Thomas had headed home after his bogey-bogey finish.
The second round had been suspended Friday when storms swept over the course, bringing down three large pine trees near the 16th green. Nobody was hurt when they fell, and workers had them cleared by the time play resumed Saturday.
Woods was 2 over with seven holes left when he returned to the course, and his birdie at the par-5 15th gave him some breathing room. But a wayward tee shot at the 17th forced Woods to lay up short of the bunker, leading to bogey, and a tee shot into the trees left of 18 forced him to hit his approach shot off the pine straw.
Woods came up short of the green, backed up his approach shot and two-putted for another bogey.
The weather wasn't getting any better, though, and Thomas took the brunt of it. With rain driving so hard at the tough, uphill par-4 18th that he had to hit a fairway wood from 218 yards, Thomas went so far left he nearly landed among the patrons. His pitch shot checked up short, and another bogey resulted in a second-round 77 and a missed cut.
That allowed Thomas Pieters and Charl Schwartzel to join Woods in making the cut when it moved to 3 over.
That also meant 12 of the 18 players from the Saudi-back LIV Golf circuit made it. Among them was leader Brooks Koepka, who dodged the bad weather Friday and was at 12 under, two shots clear of Jon Rahm heading into the third round.
Kopeka made an early birdie and was 13 under when play was halted. Rahm dropped a shot and was at 9 under.
“It’s not going to be easy,” said Abraham Ancer, one of the LIV players that made the cut. “It’s going to be blowing. It’s going to be cold. It’s going to be raining. But at least everybody is going to be out there in the same stuff.”
Rory McIlroy won't be there; he missed the cut after a second-round 77 on Friday left him 5 over for the championship. The runner-up a year ago will need to wait another year to take another crack at completing the career Grand Slam.
Others who missed the cut included Bryson DeChambeau, who shot back-to-back 74s to miss by one, and 2003 champ Mike Weir, who also finished at 4 over after he was forced to play his second round Friday with a marker.
One player who did make the cut: 63-year-old Fred Couples, who was 1 over when he finished his second round Saturday.
The 1992 champion trudged through a bogey-bogey finish, but he still became the oldest player to make the cut at Augusta National, beating the mark that Bernhard Langer set during the 2020 tournament by about 3 1/2 months.
“The last four years have been really mediocre golf. Maybe one year I was semi-close to making the cut, but that was my objective, and I did it,” Couples said. “It’s not like, ‘Ha, ha, ha. Now I can screw around and play 36 holes for fun.’ I’m going to try and compete. Play a good pairing with some younger guys and watch them play.”
Couples, whose 31 made cuts at the Masters trails only Jack Nicklaus' record of 37, didn't know he'd become the oldest player to make it. When told he had bettered Langer's mark and the exact number of days, Couples replied: “Well, good."
“Today is another day,” he said. “If it was Friday, it would have been 107.”
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports