April 14, 2019 / 1:08 PM / 3 months ago

Golf-All eyes on Woods, Molinari as Masters heads to stormy end

AUGUSTA, Ga., April 14 (Reuters) - All eyes were on Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari and the weather as the race for the Green Jacket turned into a sprint on Sunday with the Masters heading towards a stormy finish.

Woods and Molinari, who were paired together in the final round of last year’s British Open won by the Italian, will once again be in the last group.

They will tee off at 9:20 am ET (1320 GMT) as officials pushed up start times in a desperate bid to get the season’s first major across the finish line before storms hit.

The two major winners will be joined by young American Tony Finau with officials sending off threesomes from both the first and 10th tees, rather than traditional pairs in another effort to avoid a Monday finish.

So sure are forecasters of dangerous weather that Augusta National announced that there will be no Green Jacket ceremony on the terrace putting green in order to expedite gate closures and get people off the course.

Molinari, the first Italian to win a major with his victory at Carnoustie, will start the day at 13-under.

He has a two-shot lead over Finau and Woods, who is certain to be cheered on by a massive gallery as he looks to end an 11-year major title drought by claiming a fifth Green Jacket.

Lurking one shot further back is two-times defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, who will head off in the company of Webb Simpson and Englishman Ian Poulter, both four off the pace.

The stormy weather will provide an ominous backdrop for Woods, Molinari and Finau in a hugely anticipated showdown that has even attracted the attention of United States president Donald Trump.

Molinari has been almost flawless through three rounds, carding a single bogey.

Woods, playing in his 22nd Masters, heads into Sunday riding the momentum of a third round five-under 67, his best score at Augusta National since 2011 when he shot rounds of 66 and 67. Finau will be the wildcard in the last threesome. Playing in just his second Masters, the 29-year-old has displayed plenty of guts to go along with some superb form.

Famed for dislocating his ankle celebrating a hole-in-one at last year’s par-3 contest, Finau scored a 30 on his outward nine on Saturday, matching the Masters record for the lowest front nine, on the way to an eight-under 64. (Editing by Toby Davis)

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