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Four-time Masters champ Woods is back … maybe

Tiger Woods gestures to the crowd after a near eagle from a chip shot on the third hole on Saturday. (Associated Press)
Tiger Woods gestures to the crowd after a near eagle from a chip shot on the third hole on Saturday. (Associated Press)
Jim Litke Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Tiger Woods is back. Maybe.

He shot a 68 Saturday at Augusta National, putting together his first back-to-back rounds in the 60s at the Masters in 10 years, and his first in a major anywhere since 2012. But he was certain it could have been even better.

“Oh, man,” Woods said afterward, “It could have been something seriously low today.”

He finished off a recap of his round a moment later by adding ruefully, “All-in-all, if you probably look at it, it should have been about two shots better.”

Instead of lingering on what he’d accomplished already, Woods set his sights on today’s final round.

“I’m going to have to put together a really special round of golf” on Sunday,” he said. “You saw what happened here in ’96 (when Nick Faldo made up a six-shot deficit over Greg Norman). You saw what happened with Rory (McIlroy, who took a four-shot lead into the final round) in ’11.

“You never know,” he continued, “around this golf course.”

Woods arrived in Augusta with questions about both the state of his short game and the swing changes he’d attempted to make with new coach Chris Como. The four-time Masters winner acknowledged there were few places better to test both than Augusta, which places a premium on chipping and putting, and where his knowledge of the greens would force him to hit precise approach shots from a variety of tough lies.

“This is probably one of the harder tournaments to come back to because, as any golfer understands, (it’s) a golf course that’s hilly … (requiring) the right trajectory, the right shape, the right feels. On top of that,” Woods added, “you have to miss it in the correct spots.”

Woods is in a five-way tie for fifth place.

“To come back here and play in a major championship and to be in the mix – granted, I’ve got to shoot a super low” score on Sunday, Woods said, “but at least I’ve given myself a chance.”

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