Tiger out of the woods in brilliant Masters display

Just in case there was any doubt about the authenticity of his return, the sun came out at Augusta National as Tiger Woods rammed home an eight-footer for birdie to move into a share of third place after the second round of the 75th playing of the Masters.

He carded a six-under-par 66 to reach halfway in seven-under together with KJ Choi of South Korea, three behind leader Rory McIlroy.

They were one stroke behind Australian Jason Day, who had the low round of the day with his eight-under 64, a bogey-free excursion and the lowest-ever round in the Masters by a rookie.

He came home in five-under 31, as did Woods, who, after a start which was rather typical of his efforts over the last year with it three bogeys and two birdies in the first seven holes, proceeded to recall his glory days with seven birdies in the final 11 holes.

That he achieved that score was all the more remarkable given his continued waywardness off the tee with his driver, and it was only when he left it in the bag and religiously used his three-wood off the tee that he was able to conjure up some of the magic which got the patrons back into full voice in their backing of him.

And he underlined his ascent to what appears to be full flower with a superb approach from the second cut to the right of the 18th fairways, playing a huge cut around the overhanging trees to leave himself with the tricky putt for birdie.

And, although it was tricky, it was a measure of how well he had been putting since the eighth that the ball seemed destined for the bottom of the cup from the moment it left his putter’s face.

He greeted the birdie with a fist-pump that was perhaps a little more restrained than some of the extravagant celebrations of his glory days, but he followed it with a twirl of his fist that seemed to conduct the roar of the gallery.

And he acknowledged the crowds as he left to sign his card with a doffed cap in gratitude for the support.

Ahead of him as he seeks his fifth green jacket is the youth and fearlessness of McIlroy who is 21 and Day who is 23.

Both looked back on a day on which they toyed with the game and with the opposition with the kind of lack of inhibition which made Woods so dangerous at the same age.

Said Day: “You know, we were just out there just having fun, talking about just random stuff. It was just a lot of fun. We had a good time out there, and I was very fortunate to hit it good and roll some putts in today.”

They played with Rickie Fowler, the 22-year-old who carded a three-under 69 to be in a share of seventh.

Said McIlroy: “We played some really good golf out there, and we fed off one another, and we got a bit of momentum early and the crowd got behind us on the back nine and really pushed us along.”

And the weekend with Tiger on the prowl promises to be a thriller.

Not that McIlroy is concerned: “I’ll just be concentrating on the golf course,” he said. “If you start thinking about anyone else here, you can — if you let your mind wander at all, it can cost you a couple of shots. I’ll be focusing on my targets and focusing on where I want my ball to go on the greens, and that’s all I can do.

“I don’t really care what anyone else does. I don’t need to know. So it will be great for the tournament if he’s up there. But I’m two shots ahead and I’m in a better position.”

Charl Schwartzel is the best-placed of the South Africans who made the cut, at four-under in a share of 12th.

Trevor Immelman is at two-under, Ernie Els at one-over and just in the field for the weekend after the cut, while Retief Goosen, Tim Clark, Louis Oosthuizen and Rory Sabbatini have all missed out.

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