While Woods settled for being in a pack one adrift with second-ranked Dustin Johnson, fellow American Xander Schauffele and South African Justin Harding, there was no doubt he was the star to crowds glued to his every move.
Friday's second round featured all the drama long associated with golf's undisputed superstar - whose four-under par 68 put him on six-under 138 and one shot behind a remarkable bunch of five current and former major champions sharing the lead on seven-under 137.
I remember the idea of Tiger's greatness, but I think I speak for a lot of folks my age when I say I never appreciated it.
Molinari was at 13-under 203.
Leaders at the conclusion of the 72nd hole will start on the 18th hole.
"I did beat him so make sure you report that, which makes me better than Rory McIlroy apparently".More news: Champions League: "Ronaldo on a different level" - Juventus coach Allegri
Brooks Koepka is in fourth place at 10-under, three behind Molinari.
Since his last major win, Woods has shown occasional glimpses.
"I had a pretty good number", he said of his second shot. "But then again, the last two majors count for something. My dad was here in 1997 and now I'm the dad with two kids there". Even so, Molinari isn't relying on past victories over Woods as any kind of crutch.
When the third round begins, Woods will be chasing five players who have combined for seven major titles - or half of his total of 14. At Augusta, it sounds nearly unstoppable.
Sunday won't be the first time Woods and Molinari have met at the first tee of Augusta National. "This is now three straight majors that I've been in the mix and so it's good stuff", Woods said.
After Molinari and Woods made birdie on the par-5 eighth hole, Molinari sits at 13-under-par and Woods at 12 under.More news: Michael Avenatti charged with 36 counts: Embezzlement, fraud, cheating on taxes
"It was a solid day off the tee, hit the ball well", Molinari said.
"I had the lead in the British Open at one point on the back nine on Sunday and had a shot at it against Brooksie (Koepka) at the PGA and all of a sudden here I am at the Masters". I can only be happy about today. Tomorrow will be a big and exciting day for golf and for sports. He still managed to tie for 10th in his first Masters.
Holly, hole No. 18, is a grueling 465-yard par 4 that requires a pristine drive off the tee.
You don't often punch Tiger Woods in the mouth that many times in a row. "I can't remember, to be honest, if I stayed up until the end because we all knew how it was going to end".
Meanwhile, Jason Day has picked up a shot through 12 holes to improve to eight under and lead the lacklustre Australian charge.More news: Alleged OnePlus 7 Pro Makes a Weibo Appearance