Ticket Hawkers Thank Tiger Woods for Lighting Up Masters Leaderboard

Tiger Woods’ charge up the Masters leaderboard on Friday was a boon for scalpers looking to unload tickets for moving day at Augusta National Golf Club. Entry to the show was going for about $500 per yesterday, according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell. Tourney-goers will have to shell out about $1,500 for those same chits today, Rovell tweeted.

Unless your Comcast service went out yesterday, you probably know that Woods had himself quite birdie-fest down the stretch Friday, firing a 6-under 66 for the day and charging up to within three shots of frontrunner Rory McIlroy. McIlroy, for his part, shot a second-round 69 to get to 10-under for the tourney and maintain his first-round lead.

Woods was mighty satisfied with his effort. “Any time you shoot 66 in a major, it’s always going to be good,” he told reporters following his stellar round. “I’m very pleased about that, very pleased.”

Still, the 14-time major champ was not quite ready to slip into his fifth green jacket. “Well, I’m three back. So I played myself back in the championship,” he said. “We have still got 36 more holes. We have a long way to go. “

Yeah, there is, but for Woods, it’s all about the majors — and breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.

“The whole idea was to peak for this, this event,” he said, presumably referring to his well-documented struggles adapting to his new Sean Foley-inspired golf swing. “We try to peak four times a year, and it was nice to go through the learning curve and some of the changes that Sean and I had to make in the game. It was good and positive and here we are.”

So, the new and improved (at least for now) Tiger Woods must have 21-year-old McIlroy, who added Friday’s score to his opening volley of 65, quivering in his FootJoys. Not so’s you’d notice.

“I look down everyone in this field, and at some point or another, I’ve beaten them before,” the leader of the New Breed said of Yesterday’s Headlines such as Old Man Woods. “So there’s no reason why I can’t beat them again.”

Ya hear that, Fred Couples? Rory’s coming after you as well. Because 51-year-old Boom-Boom put on quite a show of his own Friday, posting a 68 to get to within five shots of the lead.

Just as a bit of history, McIlroy was two when Couples won the Masters in 1992 (and eight when Tiger donned his 1997 green threads), and the old man’s rickety back may give out before he signs his Sunday scorecard. But the Champions Tour favorite liked his chances of giving the young pups a run for their millions in Masters prize money.

“You know, I mean, could I win? Of course,” Couples told the media Friday.

Why? Because he’s only played Augusta about a zillion times. Or maybe 200. His experience could send Freddie back to Butler Cabin for the second time. “I just think the odds are against a 22-year-old winning,” he said.

Well, Rory’s 21, so let’s see how that works out for Fred and his aching back.

And don’t quite count out defending champ Phil Mickelson. Lefty, at 2-under, was unable to get much going during the first two rounds, but it’s the weekend now.

“These next two days are my favorite two days of the year, the weekend of the Masters,” Mickelson told reporters. “There’s nothing better than playing the weekend here at Augusta, and to be a couple under par in a position where a good round in the mid-60s, you can make up a lot of ground out here.

“I was able to do it last year on Saturday,” Mickelson reminded his listeneres, “and I’m going to have to make a good run tomorrow, too.”

All righty, then. It would appear that game is on. Among the myriad of questions are these:

Can Tiger put together two, or even, one more splendid round and make it really interesting on Masters Sunday?

Or will the former No. 1 revert back to the journeyman-like golfer struggling to find a golf swing and failing to stitch together four decent scores in a tourney?

And if Tiger goes on a tear, as he is wont to do at Augusta, will McIlroy and the other 20-somethings (Jason Day fired an 8-under Friday to launch himself into the mix) blink as their predecessors always did?

As for those hoping to watch some Tiger magic up close, you might want to save your shekels and wait until some of Sunday’s early-morning fans (The ANGC words patrol know what they can do with their “Patrons”) start streaming out the gates of Bobby Jones’ fabled playground. Because as Playboy’s Jonathan Littman noted in his book, “Crashing Augusta,” you don’t have to pay full freight.

“Sunday afternoon is the only time you can safely get a day’s badge relatively cheap, for three to five hundred,” Littman wrote in his essay about the Masters, part of a compilation of five Playboy articles he recently published as a book. That’s when “early departing Patrons hold up their badges at Masters Corner and auction them off to the highest bidder.”

It’s Masters Weekend, baby!

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