The National Times - Tiger's epic comeback resumes as Scheffler eyes Masters title

Tiger's epic comeback resumes as Scheffler eyes Masters title

Tiger's epic comeback resumes as Scheffler eyes Masters title
Tiger's epic comeback resumes as Scheffler eyes Masters title

Tiger Woods began Sunday's final round of the Masters, and resumed his incredible return from severe leg injuries, with a routine par while leader Scottie Scheffler eyed his first major title.

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Woods, who opened with bogeys in the second and third rounds at Augusta National, teed off before thousands of supporters as his efforts stole the spotlight at the year's first major golf tournament.

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 two-putted for par.

The 15-time major champion arrived at Augusta chasing a record-tying sixth Masters crown 14 months after a car crash that caused him to wonder if his right leg might have to be amputated.

After weeks hospitalized and months unable to walk, Woods rehabilitated his battered body and returned to top-flight competition on the same course where he won his first major title 25 years earlier, his right leg held together with metal rods, pins, plates and screws.

The buzz around Woods and his amazing effort grew after he fired a one-under par 71 in his opening round. He was still in contention after a 74 on Friday after making his 22nd consecutive Masters cut, one off the all-time record run.

But on Saturday, Woods slumped to a 78 -- his worst-ever Masters round -- in cold and windy conditions, unable to recapture the putting touch that once dazzled fans worldwide.

"I felt like I didn't really hit it that bad, but I had four three-putts and a four-putt," Woods said. "I just could not get a feel."

Woods, who stood 16 strokes adrift of Scheffler's lead on seven-over par 223 for 54 holes, said his goal for the final round would be to reach level par for the tournament, which would require a stunning 65 in his first attempt since his accident at playing 18 holes for a fourth consecutive day.

That would match his lowest-ever Masters score, shot in the third rounds of his 1997 and 2005 victories.

- Scheffler in command -

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

The 25-year-old American won his first US PGA title at February's Phoenix Open, added another last month at Bay Hill and overtook Spain's Jon Rahm for the ranking summit by capturing the WGC Match Play crown two weeks ago.

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

Smith and Scheffler were set to tee off in the final pairings at 2:40 p.m. (1840 GMT).

South Korea's Im Sung-jae, the first-day leader and another 2020 Masters runner-up, was third on 212 with Ireland's Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open champion, and South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters winner, sharing fourth on 214.

Canada's Corey Conners and American Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA championship winner, were eight adrift of Scheffler on 215.

To capture the green jacket, Thomas and Conners would need to equal the greatest last-round comeback in Masters history, the eight-stroke fightback by Jack Burke in 1956.

Scheffler could become only the fifth player to win the Masters while sitting atop the world rankings, matching the feats by 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 final tuneup event since Jordan Spieth in 2017 at the Travelers Championship and British Open.