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From Augusta National: Scottie In Front Again, Tiger Shoots Worst-Ever Major Score (82) And Hatton Stays Hatton-ing

Warren Little. Getty Images.

AUGUSTA — After all that, we're pretty much where we expected to be: everyone looking up at Scottie Scheffler. 

The world No. 1 holds a one-shot lead heading into Sunday at a very, very fiery Augusta National that yielded just two scores in the 60s. Scheffler rebounded from a double bogey at 10 and another bogey at 11 with a massive eagle at the 13th and finished with a birdie at the tricky 18th. 

"I mean, the greens just got ridiculously fast and firm," Scheffler said after his one-under 71 that has him at 7 under for the tournament. His closest chaser, Collin Morikawa (-6), went a step further. 

"I've never seen the course like this," he said after his three-under 69. "It was kind of leading up to that as the week started. We got some rain Thursday, but right now is probably exactly where Augusta wants it."

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Morikawa said he's been in search mode since early 2022, when he came back from a trip to the Middle East and something didn't feel right. His confidence wasn't sky-high when he arrived on-site this week but worked hard with his caddie/second set of eyes, J.J. Jakovac, to find something on Monday. 

"I mean, I think the last time I was pretty close was probably the U.S. Open in '22 at Brookline. And, you know, they are just different. You don't -- as a person and as a golfer, you don't know how you're going to react in those situations. Thankfully I've already been able to win two, so I can kind of go back on those experiences and just take that and take that experience into tomorrow."

One shot further back is Max Homa after a very patient but slightly frustrating 73. He made 17 pars and one lone bogey and couldn't get a putt to fall, but he still has his best chance to win a major championship by far. 

"I came here with the gratitude and appreciation that I get to do it. I'm happy I get to do it tomorrow. I'm going to remind myself I'm a dog and I'm ready for this moment."

In solo fourth is Ludvig Aberg (-4) after a two-under 70. Aberg, the world No. 9, is playing in his first-ever major championship. He became the first player ever to play in a Ryder Cup before his first major championship. And now he's got a chance to win this one. 

"I think what me and (caddie) Joe (Skovron) have been doing, we're both very disciplined. We're not trying to force anything. We're not trying to go for pins, and we're not trying to make decisions that will cost us, I guess. We're trying to take calculated risks all the time. I feel like we've been very disciplined toward our targets, and hopefully we'll be able to do that again tomorrow."

"It's very difficult to chase, but I'm going to take what I can on this golf course where I can, and I've got to make some putts. If I can make some putts tomorrow, I think I can have a good opportunity."

The stage is set for an epic Masters Sunday. 

Tiger's worst-ever round in a major

It started well enough. Tiger Woods birdied the extremely difficult par-4 5th to get back to even par from the day, and he turned a tight draw just right of the flag at the par-3 6th. 

That's when the wheels came alllll the way off. 

Woods played his last 13 holes in 10 over par to card a 10-over 82, his worst-ever score at the Masters by four shots and the worst score he's ever shot in a major championship. He was visibly hampered by…well, by all the things he could possibly be hampered by. His knee. His ankle. His back. Whatever else is taking the brunt of all those surgeries. At one point on the front nine, after double bogeys at 7 and 8 and a shoved tee shot on 9, a withdrawal seemed like a distinct possibility. But Woods trudged through after turning in seven-over 43 and didn't far all that much better on the back. 

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"I was not hitting it very good or putting well. I didn't have a very good warmup session, and I kept it going all day today. Just hit the ball in all the places that I know I shouldn't hit it. And I missed a lot of putts. Easy, makable putts. I missed a lot of them."

When asked if there was a specific moment more painful than the rest, Woods smiled: "All day." 

He vowed to return on Sunday and said his team has done an excellent job of getting him prepared for this week. 

"It will be a long night and a long warmup session, but we'll be ready."

Woods will play his final round alongside amateur Neal Shipley, a grad student at Ohio State who finished runner-up in the U.S. Amateur. As the only amateur to make the cut, he's guaranteed to be in Butler Cabin for the green-jacket ceremony. And now he gets to play a Sunday at Augusta alongside Tiger Woods. 

Tyrrell stays Tyrrell-ing

Virtually every golfer heaps praise on Augusta National. It's the ultimate test of championship golf, the best course in the world. Tyrrell Hatton is a notable exception.

Two years ago, he unloaded on Dr. Alistair McKenzie's masterpiece. 

“If you hit a good shot, you should end up near the hole, not then short-sided into a bunker because of the slopes that they’ve created and stuff," Hatton said in 2022. "I think it’s how the course is set up in general. You don’t really have to miss a shot, and your next one, you’re really struggling to make par. With how it runs off the greens here and the slopes that you are then chipping into and how obviously it’s cut, it just makes it really hard to even get chip shots close. I think everything is exaggerated here.”

This time around he tried his best to "put on a brave face," but he was seething after making a double bogey at 18. And despite his best efforts, you could read between the lines: he doesn't feel this golf course is fair. 

"Yeah, it's tough to take. I don't know how I have to play golf around here to shoot under par. Like it's now my 23rd tournament round. I've got four rounds under par…I don't know what I have to do around this place to get some good fortune and actually shoot under par and get a score that I deserve."

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