Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of The Players Championship golf tournament Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Woods is seeking to secure his 15th major title, nearly 11 years after his last such success at the 2008 U.S. Open.
Woods charged in the final few holes after five players emerged in a tie at the top of the leaderboard in the early afternoon. He hasn't finished higher than 30th this season, and Spieth is tied for 22nd. One-under through nine, he birdied 11 and 13 to take a share of the lead, and held onto it with a par save from the bunker at 18. Playing in his third Masters, Cantlay made four birdies on the front nine and four on the back to move to 6-under for the tournament.
Molinari, who claimed his first major at Carnoustie in July, first came to the Masters as a caddy for his brother Eduardo in 2006, when they were paired with Woods. Finau now leads the tournament at 9-under and Simpson, Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott and Brooks Koepka are one shot back. The leaders were to tee off at 9:20 a.m.
"As a kid, I always wanted to compete against him (Woods)", said Finau, who popped his ankle back in and bravely came back to finish 10th at last year's Masters. We've seen it over the years, anything can happen on the back nine. He has never been worse than second in that category in his four Masters victories.
The inaugural Women's Amateur championship marked another major breakthrough at Augusta National, with its long-standing reputation as a haven for rich, white, well-connected men.
But he missed a 5-footer for par at the fifth; three-putted the eighth to bogey a par-5; had it to 5 feet after an excellent approach at the par-3 12th and failed to convert.
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Woods has that rock star-like effect on the public again, and Molinari and Finau can attest to what he's meant to them.
Briefly: Of the four amateurs that made the cut, Oklahoma State's Viktor Hovland is the leader at 2 under par.
"I know I can play this golf course, just this week I have not played it well enough".
The Italian wouldn't go so far as to say he considered it a lucky pairing, and he warned that Woods and Finau wouldn't be the only players he had to worry about. "Certainly some similarities to that year in 2013, where I want to prove to myself that I've got it, and I've worked at it", he added.
Woods, who entered the week an incredible 156 under on the par 5s for his career (he's a cumulative 68 over on the other holes), has had to spread his efforts around.
"It will be nice not having to wait all day, not having to wait six hours from when I'm up, so you can just get out there and go play", Koepka said.
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