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Palmer to play 49th Masters

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 30, 2003

Arnold Palmer, who bid an emotional farewell last year at the Masters, will return for an encore.

The 73-year-old four-time winner of the green jacket decided Saturday to play in the Masters for the 49th consecutive year, spokesman Doc Giffin said. That would tie Doug Ford for the most times in the tournament. Giffin said an announcement was expected Monday from Augusta National.

"I can only say he loves to play in that tournament," Giffin said.

And Palmer won't have to worry about an age rule that Augusta instituted last year when it asked several former champions, who had been guaranteed a lifetime exemption, to stop playing because they no longer were competitive. Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson has changed his mind about keeping the old champions out of the way, the Augusta Chronicle reported, and likely will announce the change this week.

Palmer's decision comes a day after Jack Nicklaus, 63, said he would play.

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