AUGUSTA • Even after a bad round at the Masters, Tiger Woods is pleased just to have the chance to play after fearing his career might be over six months ago.
The 14-time Major champion fired a second-round three-over 75 to stand on four-over 148 after 36 holes at Augusta National.
That was 13 shots adrift of leader Patrick Reed (66). It was only one shot inside the cut line, which Woods flirted with before making birdies at the par-5 13th and 15th holes and closing with back-to-back pars.
"It was me," Woods admitted. "I didn't hit the ball very good."
It was the first Masters for four-time winner Woods since 2015, and his first Major since missing the 2015 PGA Championship cut due to a nagging back pain that eventually forced four operations.
Considering the 42-year-old American was wondering during stages of his rehabilitation if he might ever walk normally again, being fit enough to finish in the top five at two Masters tune-ups last month was a major achievement.
"Putting it in perspective, six months ago I didn't know if I'd be playing golf," Woods said. "Forget playing at the tour level, I didn't know if I'd ever be playing again.
"But it's incredible to have the opportunity again, to still come out here and play this golf course. Now I know I'm on the weekend."
Woods, restricted to just Champions' Dinner appearances the past two years at the Masters, will take his best shot in the third round at a charge up the leaderboard from his share of 40th place.
"Even though I'm a lot behind, if I play a special weekend, shoot two rounds in the mid-60s, you never know," he added.
The past two Masters champions did not qualify for the weekend.
Sergio Garcia, last year's winner, followed his opening 81 - which was defined by an insane 13 at the par-5 15th - with a 78. That 15-over total was 19 shots worse than his 36-hole mark a year ago.
Danny Willett, the winner in 2016, followed an opening 75 with a 76 to miss by two shots. Willett also missed the cut last year.
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, matched his highest-ever score at the Masters with a 79.
The 47-year-old five-time Major winner came into the Masters touted as a contender to surpass Jack Nicklaus as the oldest-ever winner, a mark established with Nicklaus' victory in 1986 at the age of 46.
Instead, he barely made the halfway cut on five-over 149.
He acknowledged that he was running out of chances to add a fourth Green Jacket to his wardrobe.
"It's a little disappointing, because I've been playing so well this year," said the American, who ended a winless drought dating back to 2013 by capturing his third WGC championship in Mexico last month.
WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE