Rory McIlroy narrowly missed out on a maiden Masters triumph but said a record-equalling final round at Augusta made him "as happy as I have ever been on a golf course".

The 32-year-old, who was aiming to complete a career grand slam of the majors, entered Sunday at one over yet gave himself hope of a remarkable victory with an eight-under 64.

That tied the lowest final-round score in the competition's history and is the second-lowest 18-hole score McIlroy has managed in a major, behind his 63 at The Open in 2010.

Magnificent McIlroy's blemish-free round consisted of six birdies, including a dramatic bunker shot at 18, and an awe-inspiring eagle on the par-five 13th.

The Northern Irishman ultimately left himself with too much to do, however, as Scottie Scheffler held his nerve to win by three strokes.

But after rolling back the years with an Augusta showing for the ages, runner-up McIlroy could not hide his delight.

"It's what you dream about, you dream about getting yourself into position," he said. "To play as well as I did today and then to finish like this, it's just absolutely incredible.

"This tournament never ceases to amaze. That's as happy as I've ever been on a golf course, right there. I've never heard roars like that on the 18th green, it was really cool."

McIlroy, who has four major victories to his name but none since 2014, told CBS: "I gave it a great go and I can't ask any more of myself.

"I went out there today, shot my best ever score at Augusta. It's going to be my best finish ever, probably not quite good enough, but I'll come back next year and keep trying."

Tiger Woods has confirmed he will participate in The Open following his successful return to action at The Masters, but he does not expect to ever play a full schedule again.

The 15-time major winner defied the odds to compete at Augusta National this week, 14 months on from sustaining serious leg and foot injuries in a car accident.

Competing in his first PGA Tour event since November 2020, Woods not only made the cut for a 22nd successive time at the Masters, he also played all 72 holes.

After a strong start to the week, Woods faded from contention and carded back-to-back rounds of six-over 78 on Saturday and Sunday – both career-worst scores.

While that score may seem underwhelming for the 46-year-old, who won this event for a fifth time in 2019, Woods received a huge ovation when completing his round.

And after showing glimpses of his old self this week, as well proving his ability to complete a tournament, Woods intends to continue appearing at majors and other select events.

"I won't be playing a full schedule ever again," he told Sky Sports. "It will just be the big events. I don't know if I will play Southern Hills [next month's PGA Championship] or not. 

"But I am looking forward to St Andrews. It's something near and dear to my heart. I've won two Opens there and it's the home of golf, my favourite golf course in the world. 

"So I will be there for that one. Yes."

Woods was limping throughout the final round, which consisted of five bogeys and a double-bogey after a birdie on the second hole, but he was blown away by the support.

"It's crazy, it's just crazy," he said of his reception. "This golf course and this tournament has meant so much to me and my family.

"From the year I was born, it was the first year that a Black man played in the Masters, Lee Elder. He got a chance to be an honorary starter last year, before he passed. 

"He was there when I ended up winning in 1997, my dad was there.

"My mum was there the entire time, and is out there today. She's stubborn. 

"She shouldn't have been out there, she shouldn't have been walking, she has no business going up and down those hills. Where do I get it from, right?"

Leader Scottie Scheffler is relishing a "great fight" for a maiden major victory at The Masters on Sunday.

World number one Scheffler holds a three-shot lead over Cameron Smith heading into the final round at Augusta.

The 25-year-old bogeyed four of the final seven holes in his third round on Saturday and did well to only drop one shot at 18 after taking a one-stroke penalty following a poor tee shot.

Scheffler will tee off at nine under with a first major triumph in his sights and the American is looking forward to the challenge.

He said: "It should be a great fight. Obviously Cam is a tremendous player, and he's got a fantastic short game, and he's coming off a huge win at The Players.

"Both of us are in good form, so I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge of playing with him tomorrow.

He added: "Little bit of different conditions on the golf course. I'm sure they will keep the green nice and firm, but the wind will be a little lighter. I'm not sure how much lighter it will be, but I think we are both looking forward to the test and the challenge.

"Playing in the final group is always so much fun, so I'm looking forward to it."

Australian Smith knows there will be no margin for error in his final round as he also eyes a first major title.

Asked what it will take for him to win, he replied: "Shoot the lowest score out there again tomorrow probably. No, I think preparation. I think it's not going to be as windy tomorrow.

"Typically here on Sunday, especially the back nine, you can use plenty of greens to your advantage and have plenty of birdie opportunities.

"Again, just stay aggressive into the greens and just keep hitting quality shots."

Sungjae Im is five shots adrift of Scheffler in third place, with Shane Lowry and Charl Schwartzel a further two strokes back.

Scottie Scheffler will head into the final round of the Masters with a three-stroke lead from Cameron Smith, after a volatile back nine on Saturday at Augusta National.

The world number one opened moving day with a five-shot lead, and charged out the gate on Saturday with four birdies over the opening nine holes.

Seeking his first major title, Scheffler then delivered three bogeys on four holes on the back nine, before taking a penalty for an unplayable lie on the par-four 18th.

Yet he salvaged what could have been an even worse outcome, gambling with a long iron and making a tricky up-and-down to finish with just a bogey and an eventual one-under 71.

In windy and icy conditions at Augusta, Smith emerged as the likeliest challenger with a second four-under 68 to finish Saturday on six-under-par.

The Australian world number six will be paired with Scheffler despite trailing by seven shots midway through the third round, claiming three birdies in six holes on the back nine.

Like Scheffler, Smith also skewed his tee shot into the trees on the 18th, but was eventually able to scramble for par.

Smith's Presidents Cup teammate Im Sung-jae is in outright third, shooting a one-under-par 71 in the third round.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods' six-over-par 78 was his worst in 93 rounds over his career at Augusta, leaving him at seven-over-par.

Scottie Scheffler made a superb start to the third round of the Masters to extend his lead to six shots on Saturday.

The mission for the chasing pack was clear going into moving day at Augusta National: chase down the world number one, who ended day two with a five-stroke lead.

But Scheffler, seeking his first major title, made that task even harder with four birdies on the front nine.

After saving par at a tricky first hole, Scheffler produced a stunning second shot at the 575-yard second to put him on the edge of the green.

He chipped to four feet to set up a simple birdie, which was followed by another gain at the third following a superb approach shot to eight feet to move to 10 under par.

A dropped shot at the fourth gave hope to his prospective challengers, but that stroke was clawed back courtesy of an excellent 17-foot putt at the sixth.

He chipped to six feet for another gain at the eighth to improve to 11 under, with a par at the ninth leaving Cameron Smith as his closest challenger at five under through 12.

Scottie Scheffler admitted to having some fortune after windy conditions that had caused many players to struggle on day two of the Masters died down for him later in his round of 67.

The world number one established a five-shot lead at Augusta after shooting a five-under round for the day, a total matched only by Justin Thomas on Friday.

Scheffler sits well ahead of the chasing pack, with previous overnight leader Im Sung-jae, Charl Schwartzel, Shane Lowry and reigning champion Hideki Matsuyama all on three under par.

Speaking after his round, the 25-year-old exclaimed his happiness with his game, saying: "I feel like my game is in a good spot. I've done a good job managing my way around the golf course the last two days, and I've made some really nice up and downs and key putts that have kept my rounds going.

"I've kept my cards pretty clean for the most part, which is nice."

When asked about the pressure of holding the lead at Augusta, Scheffler added: "If anything, it gives me more confidence. Once I saw that I took the lead at one point today, and my first thought was to just keep trying to build it just because I feel like I'm playing well.

"That will be the goal going into tomorrow, just to keep putting myself in good positions, execute shots, and as long as I'm committed to everything, everything should be fine. The rest really isn't up to me."

Scheffler was among many players to comment on the windy conditions, but did admit that after it had died down, it allowed him to make a strong finish, birdieing four of his last seven holes.

"To be completely honest, the front nine was such a grind," he said. "The wind was crazy. There was some times where we saw the sand blowing up out of the bunkers out there. It was ridiculous.

"I think we were a little bit fortunate that it did die down a little bit towards the end of the day. It was still gusty, but you were able to find some spots where, for instance, on 16 I almost didn't even play any wind. We were definitely fortunate in that sense, but we were also playing in some pretty aggressive winds at the beginning of the round."

World number one Scottie Scheffler leads the Masters by five shots after a strong showing on a windy second day at Augusta.

Scheffler carded a five-under 67 to move to eight under for the tournament, ahead of four players in the chasing pack on three under.

After a woeful start to his second round, bogeying four of the first five holes, Tiger Woods recovered to card 74 for the day, tied for 19th on one over par, at least ensuring he will be back for the weekend.

The leader heading into the second round, Im Sung-jae, was unable to repeat his Thursday heroics but remains in the mix after his round of 74 left him among those tied for second with Charl Schwartzel, Shane Lowry and reigning champion Hideki Matsuyama.

Several big names did miss the cut, with Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka finishing on six over par after two rounds, Xander Schauffele on seven over, Justin Rose eight over and Bryson DeChambeau 10 over.

Shot of the day

An honourable mention to Woods and Lowry for tremendous second shots at 10, but there can only be one winner on Friday as Stewart Cink pulled off a crowd-pleasing hole-in-one at the 16th.

The 48-year-old ultimately missed the cut, finishing on seven over par, but hitting his tee shot on 16 to the right of the hole, only for the ball to roll back and into the cup led to the appropriate whooping from the fans and hugging from Cink's caddie, who also happened to be his son Reagan.

Player of the day

Lowry impressed with his four-under round for the day, but there is no looking past Scheffler, who dominated day two in Augusta.

The 25-year-old made seven birdies for his five-under round of 67, the joint-best of the day with Justin Thomas, following his 69 from Thursday and giving him a big lead going into Saturday.

Scheffler was already in the lead when he put his foot on the accelerator after the turn, making birdies on four of his last seven holes.


Chipping in

Collin Morikawa on Tiger: "I've never heard roars like that [on Thursday]. Especially at Augusta when everything kind of echoes a little bit more. I think we were walking down six, and [Dustin Johnson] and I heard that Tiger I think made birdie, and you can hear that. There's nothing like it."

Schwartzel on his mindset: "I think that's where I've been going wrong. Mind is too active, and I really worked hard in staying in the present and just trying to execute a golf shot and not to worry about what can go wrong because I've been playing too much golf thinking of what can go wrong."

Cink on whether he would be getting his son Reagan, who also caddied for him on his birthday, a present: "I already got him the hole-in-one. That's the extent of my birthday present. I gave him the ball. That should be enough, right?"

A little birdie told me

- Scheffler's five-stroke margin ties the largest 36-hole lead in Masters history.

- Woods maintains his 100 per cent record of making the cut at the Masters (22 out of 22). He has secured a top five place in 57 per cent of his previous 21 appearances (12), winning the title on five occasions.

- Cink's hole-in-one was the 34th in Masters history, though 16 is by far the most popular hole for aces at Augusta, with 24 being made there.

Tiger Woods said he needs "to go out there and handle my business" as the five-time Masters champion recovered from a dreadful start to his second round.

It is a surprise that Woods is competing this week, and while a fairytale tournament victory looks beyond him – with world number one Scottie Scheffler leading the chasing pack by five shots on eight under – he is pleased to have at least secured his place for the weekend's action at Augusta.

Woods was champion at the Masters most recently in 2019, when he ended a run of 11 years without a major title.

However, his second round on Friday got off to a woeful start as he bogeyed four of his first five holes, with his comeback threatening to turn sour as he flirted with the projected cut score of four over par.

Woods soon turned things around, though, and despite two more bogeys on 11 and 12 he followed up with two birdies and four pars to finish with a round of 74 and on one over par overall, meaning he kept up his 100 per cent record of making the cut at Augusta.

The 46-year-old has now made the weekend on 22 occasions at the Masters, which is the only major in which he has always made the cut as a professional. He has secured a top-five finish in 12 of those previous 21 appearances.

Five-time Masters champion Woods conceded the wind had been an issue early on, saying: "It was blustery. It was windy. It was swirling all over the place.

"I hit a couple shots that I got a couple of bad gusts and also made a couple of bad swings on top of that. Then on four, I ended up in a divot. It was just like 'okay, what else can go wrong?'"

When asked how he was feeling, Woods laughed and replied: "Well, I don't feel as good as I would like to feel. That's okay.

"As I said, I've got a chance going into the weekend. Hopefully I'll have one of those light bulb moments and turn it on in the weekend and get it done. You've seen guys do it with a chance going into the back nine. If you are within five or six going into the back nine, anything can happen.

"I need to get myself there. That's the key. I need to get myself there.

"Tomorrow will be a big day. It's going to be cool. It's going to be tough. Again, the wind is supposed to blow again and tough scoring conditions. I need to go out there and handle my business and get into the red and get myself a chance going into that back nine on Sunday."

Rory McIlroy endured a "really tough" day in the Georgia wind after carding another round 73 to sit on two over par after two rounds at the Masters.

The weather really put the "gust" in Augusta on Friday as several players struggled with the conditions, though McIlroy looks to have made the cut, projected to be four over.

The Northern Irishman made three birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey as he found himself unable to make a move on the leaders.

Speaking after his round, McIlroy said of the conditions: "Tough, really tough. It's gusty, it's hard to commit to a number and say 'okay, it's 170, it's really playing 200', and committing to it because the wind's just going up and down.

"It's a tough challenge, being okay with hitting to 30 feet and getting within two shots and making pars, that's been the name of the game today."

The 32-year-old hit a bogey at 10 before double bogeying the 11th to drop to four over par, but was able to birdie two of the last seven to potentially rescue his week.

"That was a soft couple of holes on 10 and 11, giving away three shots," he added. "And then to play the last seven in two under was really nice. I hit the ball very well coming in, felt like I left a couple out there too, I had a few chances, but it's just one of those days that even the 10 footers are difficult because the wind's gusting.

"One of those days that unsettles you a bit and puts some doubt in your mind, and that's where golf can become difficult."

A number of high-profile players are likely to miss the cut, with Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka on six over par after two rounds, Xander Schauffele on seven over, Justin Rose eight over and Bryson DeChambeau 10 over.

Rory McIlroy will hope to build on an encouraging start on day two at The Masters and claimed his first-round one-over 73 was the "worst I could have shot".

The Northern Irishman headed to Augusta National searching to complete the elusive career grand slam for an eighth attempt, and sits six shots behind leader Im Sung-jae after the opening round on Thursday.

Slow starts have often been McIlroy's problems at the majors, but he felt his "negative" approach paid dividends as he opted for a more conservative route around Augusta.

Four-time major winner McIlroy was satisfied with his first outing as he looks for a first major title since the PGA Championship in 2014, and believes his one-over-par round did not do his efforts justice.

"I am encouraged with how I played. I don't really care where I am at on the leaderboard, it doesn't matter," the 32-year-old said.

"I hit the ball well from tee to green in the most part, I am pleased with that [although] I want to work on my putting.

"I think I hit 12 fairways and 14 greens and just didn't really get a lot out of the round. I hit a lot of greens in the middle and made a lot of easy pars.

"I had a putt at 14 to go two-under for the round with a par five to play but I three-putted that and halted any momentum I had. I think that's the worst I could have shot, I felt I played really well.

"The course is in incredible shape for the amount of rain we have had, so I am looking forward to dry conditions over the next three days."

McIlroy, who is tied for 31st place after his three bogeys cancelled out two birdies, is set to get back in action at 15:45 BST on Friday with playing partners Brooks Koepka and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

While he had no difficulty in parring the first hole on the opening day, McIlroy believes the nerves of that initial tee shot at The Masters never fade away.

"The hour or two leading up to that first tee shot there are nerves and anxiety," he added. "Once you get the first tee shot out of the way it is business as usual.

"I usually envision, 'what's the worst place I could hit it off the tee?' I then think, 'okay, I could probably make four from there'. That is how I settle myself down."

Tiger Woods looked in good health in his return to The Masters, but it is Im Sung-jae who stands alone atop the leaderboard after the first round at Augusta National.

In Woods' first competitive round since The Masters in 2020, the legend finished with three birdies – on the sixth, 13th and 16th – as well as two bogeys, on the eighth and 14th holes.

South Korea's Im produced the round of the day, birdieing the first three holes on his way to five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on 13 to finish at five under.

Smith, who recently won The Players Championship, finished one shot off the lead and outright second at four under, despite bookending his round with double-bogeys on both the first and the 18th, with eight birdies in between.

World number one Scottie Scheffler nearly went bogey-free, but a slip-up on 18 saw him finish two shots off the pace at three under. 

It was a similar story for Dustin Johnson, who birdied four of his first 10 holes before dropping a shot on the 17th to finish tied with Scheffler, as well as Chile's Joaquin Niemann and England's Danny Willett in a tie for third.

Patrick Cantlay and Canadian Corey Conners highlight the small group tied for seventh at two under, while Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and former runner-up Will Zalatoris are one further back, tied with Woods for 10th.

A decorated group finished at even par, including Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia, as well as Victor Hovland, who had five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey.

A pair of big names shot 73 for a one over finish in Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, while plenty of notable stars were a further shot back.

Bookmakers' favourite Jon Rahm was uncharacteristically off his game, with four bogeys and two birdies to finish at two over along with Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott.

Brooks Koepka was two under through nine holes, but three consecutive bogeys on 11, 12 and 13 drained his confidence, eventually finishing three over.

Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Thomas had a day to forget at four over.

Tiger Woods says he was "sore" but "right where I need to be" after making a promising start to his astonishing comeback at The Masters.

It was feared the 15-time major champion's incredible career would be over when he suffered serious leg and foot injuries in a car accident in February 2021.

Yet just over 13 months later, the legendary American was teeing off in the first major of the season at Augusta and was just three shots off the lead when he signed for a one-under 71.

At the famous course where he won the green jacket five times, Woods made three birdies and two bogeys in a promising return.

Sungjae Im was at the top of the leaderboard on five under through 15 holes, with Dustin Johnson a shot adrift of the South Korean along with Cameron Smith, who started and finished with a double bogey as he went round in 68.

The 46-year-old Woods says it feels like a victory just to be playing this week and is ready to go through the pain barrier in Georgia, where he was given such great support on Thursday.

He said: "I am as sore as I expected to feel, but it was amazing to have - like I was telling the team all week, come game time, it will be a different deal.

"My adrenaline will kick in. I'll get into my own little world, and I'll get after it. It's about the training that we've done to have the stamina to go.

"I'm going to be sore, yes. That's just the way it is. But the training cycles that we've had to make sure that I have the stamina to keep going -- and this is only one round. We've got three more to go. There's a long way to go and a lot of shots to be played."

Woods revealed that his pre-round preparation had not gone to plan.

"I had a terrible warm-up session," he said. "I hit it awful. I went back to what my dad always said. Did you accomplish your task in the warm-up? It's a warm-up. Did you warm-up?

"Yes, I did. Now go play. That's exactly what I did, I went and played."

"I forgot whatever I did on the range and just go ahead and play shot for shot, hit the ball in the correct spot, commit to what I'm doing, leave myself in the right angles, hopefully make a few putts, and let's get after this thing. Yeah, I was able to do that.

"I was able to finish up in the red. I'm only three back. I'm right where I need."

The former world number one, who could have lost a leg following his car accident last year, had more work to do after such an encouraging opening round.

He added: "Lots of treatments. Lots of ice. Lots of ice baths. Just basically freezing myself to death. That's just part of the deal. And getting all the swelling out as best as we possibly can and getting it mobile and warmed up, activated and explosive for the next day. Those are two totally different ends of the spectrum.

"Most sports, if you're not feeling very good, you got a team-mate to pass it off to, and they can kind of shoulder the load. Or in football, one day a week. Here we've got four straight days, and there's no one that's going to shoulder the load besides me. I've got to figure out a way to do it.

"My team's been incredible at getting me into this position so that I can compete. I'll take it from there. I know how to play. I've just got to get out there where I can play."

Tiger Woods made an impressive start to his sensational Masters return before Dustin Johnson joined Cameron Smith in a share of the lead at Augusta.

Woods declared himself fit to make an incredible comeback at Augusta on Thursday, just over 13 months after suffering serious leg and foot injuries in a car accident.

The 15-time major champion did not resemble a player whose career could have been over last year as he carded a one-under 71 in his first competitive round for 508 days.

Woods was in a share of ninth place when he holed a putt for par at 18 following a wayward tee shot as he made up for lost time in Georgia, where he was given magnificent support from packed galleries.

The five-time winner of the green jacket went out in 36 after a brilliant tee shot gave him a simple task of rolling in a short birdie putt at the par-three sixth, before a first bogey at the eighth.

Legendary American Woods made further gains at holes 13 and 16 following a second dropped shot at 14, looking like he had never been away in a promising opening round.

Smith started and finished with a double bogey as he signed for a four-under 68.

The Australian had been three shots clear, but sliced his tee shot way at the last to the right, undoing some of the good work after making eight birdies.

World number one Scottie Scheffler joined Smith on four under when he made a fourth birdie at the penultimate hole, but bogeyed 18 to join Danny Willett and Joaquin Niemann one stroke off the pace.

Johnson ominously moved into a share of the lead with Smith when he made a fourth birdie of the day at the 10th under blue skies.

There were roars at Augusta National when Tiger Woods saved par at the first hole of the Masters on his sensational return.

Woods has defied the odds to make his comeback this week after recovering from the serious leg and foot injuries he sustained in a car accident in February 2021.

The 15-time major champion was given an incredible ovation at the first tee in Georgia on Thursday after a delay to the start of the tournament due to thunderstorms.

Woods, a winner of the green jacket on five occasions, most recently in 2019, sent his tee shot just short of a bunker to the right of the fairway and had work to do following his approach.

The legendary American chipped his third shot 10 feet from the hole and looked like he had never been away as he rolled in a putt for par.

Padraig Harrington hit the turn at the top of the leaderboard on one under along with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Daniel Berger, Harry Higgs and Max Homa.

Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama also made par at the opening hole, but there was a double-bogey for the well fancied Cameron Smith.

Englishman Paul Casey will not win a maiden major this weekend, as he withdrew due to injury.

Masters and Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley says Phil Mickelson was not "disinvited" from the first major of the year.

Six-time major winner Mickelson in February revealed he was taking a hiatus following the backlash to his comments promoting a Saudi Arabia-backed Super Golf League. 

The 51-year-old American had suggested that although Saudi Arabia has "a horrible record on human rights", the threat of the potential breakaway competition could be used to "reshape how the PGA Tour operates".

Mickelson subsequently apologised for making "reckless" comments.

There will be no fourth Masters title for the San Diego native this week, as he is not in the field in Georgia. 

Ridley on Wednesday denied that Mickelson's absence is because he is not welcome.

He said in a press conference: "I would like to say we did not disinvite Phil. Phil is a three-time Masters Champion and is invited in that category and many other categories; he's the defending PGA Champion. 

"Phil reached out to me, I think it was in late February, early March, and let me know that he did not intend to play. That was by way of a text. 

"And I thanked him for his courtesy in letting me know.  I told him that we certainly appreciated that and, you know, told him that I was certainly willing to discuss that further with him if he'd like, and he thanked me, and we had a very cordial exchange."

While Ridley says it will be strange not to see Mickelson tee off on Thursday, he is naturally delighted that Tiger Woods' is set to make a sensational comeback.

"Well, certainly not anything we anticipated. I think in Phil's case, he made a personal decision, and I don't know anything beyond that," Jacobs said.

"I know that Phil has been a real fixture here at the Masters for many, many years. He's been a big part of our history. I certainly and we certainly wish him the best sort of working through the issues he's dealing with right now. 

"As it relates to Tiger, it's just truly amazing. I don't even know how else to say it. I would have probably taken some pretty high odds a few weeks or a few months ago, even a few weeks ago, whether or not he would be here. 

"But when you think about it, it really shouldn't surprise us. He is one of the most determined, dedicated athletes that I have ever seen in my life. 

"I saw him out last Tuesday when he was out practising, was in great spirits and had Charlie [his son] with him. It was interesting yesterday in his press conference, he said the only really issue is walking; that his golf swing's fine. So who knows what might happen this week, but we are excited he's here."

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