Finau rockets into Masters lead with blistering front nine

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Woods, who finished the first round four shots back of the co-leaders, had plenty of work to do by the time he teed off in the penultimate group on Friday as several players from the early groups had already moved up the leaderboard. He played the first eight holes at even par before kicking it into another gear, starting with a 37-foot birdie putt on No. 9.

But after producing a miracle recovery shot to find the green, Woods was almost taken out in sensational fashion by a security guard who slid in, after slipping on the mud caused by earlier rain while rushing to protect the superstar.

"Three [majors] in a row, I've been right in the mix", Woods added, building on his second place at last year's PGA Championships. Day fired 67 after tweaking his back Thursday.

"I feel like I played my own way back into the tournament", said Woods, who is seeking his first major victory since 2008.

Woods' round took an interesting turn on No. 14. He was particularly happy to finish, especially after storms moved into the area and stopped play right after his tee shot into 5 feet on the unsafe par-3 12th.

"It was fun", Woods said after the round, before saying he was confident on how he was striking the ball ahead of the weekend.

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He didn't show any trouble the rest of the way, and didn't find much interest in talking about it after his round except to say "accidents happen" and "it's all good".

That left him just shy of the biggest co-leader pack ever after 36 holes at the Masters, the five one more than in 2017 and 1973 - each time the eventual victor coming from the top foursome.

As rain lashed Augusta, severe weather forced a 40-minute delay, after which Scott returned to fire a 231-yard second shot onto the green at the par-five hole. "I'm in a good spot to kind of run with them". It must be the hills, because I've been playing and hitting a lot of balls recently with no ill-effects.

Woods initially skipped away as the golfing world collectively held its breath, but showed no ill effects during the remainder of his round and was just an inch from a share of the lead when he left a 15-foot putt short on the final green.

Woods had three birdies on each nine, with a bogey 5 on the fifth his only blight.

The 29-year-old American joins five others - Johnny Miller, Greg Norman, K.J. Choi, Gary Woodland and Mickelson - who have all carded 30 over the first nine.

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