AUGUSTA (Georgia) (AFP) Tiger Woods leaped into contention Friday at the 74th Masters, showing no sign of a golf letdown from a five-month layoff and humiliating sex scandal as he moved into a share of third place. World number one Woods, whose four-under par 68 Thursday marked the best of his 16 Masters opening rounds, fired a second-round 70 under tougher conditions to stand on 138, two off the pace of Englishmen Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter. It feels very good to be back in contention, Woods said. I usually put myself in contention and this year Im right there. Weve got 36 more holes to play. It should be an exciting weekend. Any impact of shame and remorse after cheating on wife Elin with multiple mistresses more than a dozen women have claimed sexual affairs with Woods has been set aside as Woods hopes to move on and win in his return to golf. I felt I could put myself in contention. My practice has been really consistent and progressing, Woods said. I didnt have the luxury of playing tournaments coming in. I had to be more focused in my practice sessions. Woods, a 14-time major winner, is chasing the all-time major win record of 18 set by Jack Nicklaus and could become only the second man to win the Masters in his debut event of a season, matching Ben Hogans 1951 and 1953 triumphs. Woods birdied the par-5 second, 13th and 15th holes Friday with a lone bogey at the par-3 fourth after hooking his tee shot left of the green, coping well with tougher pin placements and brisk breezes at Augusta National Golf Club. Conditions were much more difficult, Woods said. Yesterday the pins were a step and a half easier than they normally are. Europe number one Westwood and Poulter, Februarys World Golf Championship Match-Play winner, can each be the first Englishman to win a major title since Nick Faldo rallied in the final round to beat Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters. There was a lot of talk the English guys are in good form. Its nice to see they are on top of the leaderboard right now, Poulter said. Hopefully we can have a great weekend and be in a similar position come Sunday night. Westwood, who opened with a 67, was a leader at the end of a major round for the first time in his career. Westwood shared third at the 2009 British Open and PGA Championship and 2008 US Opens but his best finish at the Masters was a share of sixth in 1999. After years on the verge of a major breakthrough, Westwood hopes it comes this week. Its the only thing Im missing in my career, Westwood said. Obviously it would mean a lot. I know Ive got the game and Ive got the temperament. Its just going up one step further and finishing it off. Westwood eagled the second, birdied the third and followed a bogey at five with back-to-back birdies. Bogeys to open and close the back nine and a double bogey at the 14th proved his undoing, more than offsetting birdies at 11, 13 and 15. Poulter fired his second consecutive 68, suffering his only bogey at 18. Its one of the best rounds of golf Ive played in a while, Poulter said. I hit a lot of solid shots. Had plenty of chances. Bit of a shame to bogey the last. Its Friday so I dont want to get carried away. I played very well. Poulters Match-Play win boosted his confidence for the Masters. You have to be aggressive to your targets, Poulter said. You cant let the course intimidate you. I like the fact its going to put a bit of pressure on me. You cant let your mind wander in any way, shape or form or the course will penalize you. Woods shared third with US rivals Phil Mickelson, Anthony Kim and Ricky Barnes and South Korean K.J. Choi. Its my best (place) after the second round in a major. Im very happy, Choi said. My game is very improved and my confidence is very good. Another Korean, first-ever Asian mens major winner Yang Yong-Eun, was another shot adrift on 139. Yang won last years PGA Championship. US legends Tom Watson, 60, and Fred Couples, 50, stumbled but stayed within reach in a share of ninth with Denmarks Soren Kjeldsen on 141. Im disappointed with the way I finished, Watson said. There are several shots I should have made. There were 48 players inside the cut at three-over 147. Reigning champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina needing a birdie at 18 to avoid being the first Masters winner to miss the next years cut since Canadas Mike Weir in 2004. Italian amateur Matteo Manassero, the youngest Masters player at 16, became the youngest player to make a Masters cut, eclipsing the mark of 18 set by Bob Cole in 1967 by making it on the number like Cabrera. I struggled but I made some good pars, Manassero said. Japans Ryo Ishikawa missed the cut by a shot due to a bogey at 18. Others gone for the weekend included three-time major winner Padraig Harrington on 149, reigning British Open champion Stewart Cink on 152 and Fijis Vijay Singh on 154.