WORLD NUMBER 48 Gary Woodland matched an Augusta National course record with a six-under par 30 on the front nine Saturday, leaping right into contention at the Masters despite trailing by ten shots overnight.
The 29-year-old American opened with a birdie, before adding an eagle at the par-5 second and birdied three of the last four on the front nine to match Johnny Miller (1975), Greg Norman (1988), KJ Choi (2004) and Phil Mickelson (2009) as the only players to shoot 30 on front nine.
Augusta National’s low mark on the back nine is 29 by Mark Calcavecchia in 1992 and David Toms six years later.
When Woodland, who started the day three-over for the event, began the back nine with a birdie as well, his third in a row, he reached four-under for the tournament, level with Australian John Senden for second just three adrift of leader Bubba Watson with the pace-setter still nearly 90 minutes from teeing off in the final group.
Woodland, who only reached the field for the year’s first major by qualifying for last year’s US PGA Tour Championship, went off in the fifth group of the day with countryman Billy Horschel.
Rory McIlroy was the first player out Saturday and played the front nine in 90 minutes at one-over par alongside a non-competing marker.
The pre-tournament oddsmakers’ favorite birdied the second hole but followed with bogeys at the third and seventh. He began the back nine with another bogey but birdied birdied the par-5 15th and was one-over on the day with two holes to play.
Additional reporting from AFP.