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But their feats were all eclipsed by Woods, who signaled he would be a threat to capture his first major title since the 2008 US Open and first Masters title since 2005 - astonishing after years of knee and back injuries that made him doubt if he would ever play competitively again.

With Italy's Francesco Molinari, South African Louis Oosthuizen, American Brooks Koepka and Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott - major winners all - sharing the overnight lead and Tiger Woods lurking one shot back, a massive crowd filed into Augusta National expecting an extraordinary day's action.

Players were greeted by steady rain as play began on Friday but the skies cleared allowing over half of the 87-player field to complete their rounds before action was halted.

That shot momentarily launched Scott past countryman Day into the outright lead, before a three-putt on the next hole brought him back level.

Looming just as large was Woods, who atoned for missing two birdie chances inside 8 feet on the back nine with consecutive birdie putts from 30 feet that sent him to a 4-under 68 and left him one shot behind.

But while a 43-year-old Woods was doing battle for a fifth green jacket at the top of a star-studded leaderboard, McIlroy was putting the finishing touches to a second consecutive 71 to finish one under par.

5 p.m This is a tradition unlike any other for the Masters - an early start Sunday with hopes of finishing ahead of thunderstorms.

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Woods was forced to lay up on the par-5 15th and gave himself a lengthy look at birdie.

The expected fireworks started early as one of the US hopes Finau provided the main plot twist, racing to the top of leaderboard with a sparkling six-under 30 front nine featuring four birdies and an eagle.

He knocked in the eagle putt to move to eight-under par. Day also shot a 67.

Throughout Tom Watson's competitive dotage, it became nearly an annual refrain that Augusta National was too long and that his body could not take it any longer.

Spieth, who has struggled for much of the a year ago and has no finishes better than 30th in 2019, rallied with a 68 during the second round to get to 1 under par for the tournament.

"Look, tomorrow is a very important day because there's no doubt someone in the top 15, or a few of them, are going to play very well", Scott said.

Tiger Woods of the US hits off the 18th tee during second round play.


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