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2011 Masters Leaderboard: Tiger Woods Makes His Move; Rory McIlroy Leads

Tiger Woods is on the prowl at Augusta National.  Woods played the final 11 holes at seven-under par en route to a 66 to finish the day at 7-under par, just three shots behind leader Rory McIlroy who posted a three-under 69.

McIlroy, a first-round co-leader after a 65, finished 36 holes at 10-under 134 and is two strokes clear at Augusta National.

Jason Day, who played with McIlroy the first two days, fired an impressive, eight-under 64 on Friday and moved into second place at minus-eight.

 Woods scorched the back nine at Augusta on Friday. After he was one-over through seven holes of his second round, Woods birdied three in a row from the eighth to reach three-under par for the championship.

He kept the momentum going with a huge par save at 11. Woods' drive landed in the trees and he was able to reach the green. He hit a terrible first putt, but cashed in from seven feet to save the four.

"That was huge," Woods said in a televised interview. "It was a big putt to make."

He rolled in a five-foot birdie putt at the 13th and that kicked off another great run for Woods. He stuffed his approach three feet from the flag to set up birdie at 14, then birdied the 15th to get to minus-six.

Woods hit a spectacular nine-iron to seven feet at the par-three 16th, but missed the putt left. He hit his second long at 17, but hit a great pitch to a foot to save par.

At the closing hole, Woods played his approach to nine feet. He poured in the birdie putt to get to seven-under par and well within striking distance on the weekend.

Woods hasn't donned a green jacket since 2005, but if he were to get one on Sunday, it would mean so much. He hasn't won a tour event in over a year since his personal scandal broke in late 2009.

And now he's definitely in position to win again.

"I'm three back, right where I need to be," said Woods in his interview. "Hopefully tomorrow I can piece together another good round."

Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, carded a three-under 69 and is tied for fifth with first-round co-leader Alvaro Quiros, who struggled to a one- over 73 on Friday.

And you definitely can't say it's all about the youngsters this week when a Champions Tour player is on the leaderboard.

Fred Couples, 51 and the 1992 Masters champion, shot a four-under 68 and vaulted into a tie for fifth place at five-under par.

"Could I win? Of course. Am I looking forward to playing tomorrow? Yeah, you'd better believe it," said Couples.

Couples was joined in seventh place by former PGA Champion Y.E. Yang (72), Ricky Barnes (71), Rickie Fowler (69) and last year's runner-up Lee Westwood (67).

Defending champion Phil Mickelson didn't get much going on Friday. He shot an even-par 72 and is tied for 20th at two-under par.

With Woods' big leap and Couples' move, it's still a 21-year-old from Northern Ireland who occupies the top spot on the leaderboard.

McIlroy broke into red figures for the first time at the par-five second. He missed the green in two, but pitched his third inside a foot and tapped in for birdie.

He birdied the fifth to reach nine-under par, and after three straight pars, rolled in a five-footer for birdie at the ninth. He was the first player double-digits under par, but he didn't last at 10-under long. McIlroy missed a 12-foot par putt at the famed 12th and fell back to nine-under par.

McIlroy hit a spectacular second shot from the fairway to 10 feet at the par- five 13th. McIlroy's eagle putt stayed above ground, but he kicked in the little birdie putt to get back to minus-10.

At the par-five 15th, McIlroy's second stopped just off the fringe behind the green. His third went all the way across the putting surface and looked perilously close to a wet ending, but the ball somehow came to rest. McIlroy got up and down for a testy par.

McIlroy had some chances on his way in. He knocked his approach to 10 feet at the 17th, but missed. He was a little closer at the last, but that putt also missed.

But McIlroy is two ahead with two rounds to go in his bid for a first major championship.

"It's what we play for," said McIlroy. "It's obviously going to be a lot of fun out there tomorrow, but at the same time, you know, I'm going to be nervous. But that's natural, and you welcome that."

McIlroy fired a 63 to lead last year's British Open, but followed it with an 80. That certainly didn't happen on Friday.

"I just need to start tomorrow fresh and go out and just try and play some good golf, hit good shots, give myself opportunities for birdies, not think about where I'm at on the leaderboard or that it's Augusta National or that it's the Masters," said McIlroy.

Day was spectacular on Friday with three birdies on his opening side, then four birdies in a six-hole stretch from the 11th. At the closing hole, Day knocked his approach close to the hole and converted the best round of the day.

"I shot a lot of low scores before, but this probably takes the cake of being the lowest and probably the best round I've played," said Day. "We had a good time out there, and I was very fortunate to hit it good and roll some putts in today."


Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.