Tiger Woods hopes for a rebound at Masters

Associated Press
Tiger Woods takes his third shot on the second hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Tiger Woods takes his third shot on the second hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament …

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Before Tiger Woods thinks about making a weekend move at the Masters, he'll have to get his long game, his putter and, yes, even his temper back in check.

Woods had an early tee time Saturday at Augusta National and opened with two pars. He's trying to make up an eight-shot deficit on leaders Fred Couples and Jason Dufner after a second round filled with bad shot-making and missed putts that had him tossing and kicking his clubs by the end.

He entered the weekend at 3-over 147, hoping to manufacture the kind of comeback he made last year, when he trailed by as many as seven but briefly got into the lead on Sunday before finishing fourth.

Couples and Dufner had the last tee times on a sunny, calm day in Augusta.

They held a one-shot lead over a group of six, including Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.

Woods was among the 63 players who made the cut, the most since 1992 — the year Couples, now 52, won his only green jacket.

Woods has won four since then and appeared to have his game back in shape after two years of personal and professional turmoil. He won in Orlando last month for this first PGA Tour victory in 30 months and was the favorite coming into the year's first major.

But his game unraveled over the first two days — starting with sprayed drives, continuing with blocked approach shots and finishing with four missed putts inside of five feet during a round of 3-over 75 on Friday.

He was tossing clubs, shouting out expletives and, in the worst moment, even kicked his club after sending his tee shot on the par-3 16th hole into a bunker right of the green.

He blocked his first approach shot of the third round Saturday and stared blankly down at the divot, then up the hill at the ball, which ended up pin high but to the right of the first green. He got up and down, sinking an 8-foot putt to save par, then made another par on No. 2 — a par-5 that has been the easiest on the course so far this week.

Woods was under way before Couples even arrived.

Couples put on a show Friday — the fan favorite bringing his trademark West Coast-casual attitude along with a smooth swing that hasn't broken down much over the years. He made seven birdies in a round of 5-under 67.

"Can I win?" Couples said, repeating the question now on the minds of so many. "Yeah, I believe I can. Yes."

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