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Winners of draw endure rainy practice

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- For spectators who waited nearly a year for their Masters moment, Tuesday was not such a good day.

Rain and chilly weather greeted players and fans at Augusta National, causing the suspension of practice rounds for two hours in the morning. The weather is supposed to get better in time for the tournament, but that was little consolation to the thousands who had tickets only for Tuesday.

Seeing the Masters and Augusta National is so popular that the tournament went to a lottery system for its practice round tickets a few years ago. Fans are given the opportunity to enter the lottery in the spring. If chosen, they are given the opportunity to buy tickets.

SLUMP? It might not have been a slump, but Tiger Woods said his start to this year -- he did not win in five PGA Tour events and an event overseas -- was less than he had hoped. Although he never finished worse than 13th, Woods said he was not sharp.

"I think I played too much at the end of last year," Woods said. "I played eight consecutive weeks, traveled more than 27,000 miles on four different continents, and that put a toll on my body. I didn't take enough of a break. I came back and wasn't as energetic as I should have been. That's not saying I wasn't trying. I think that's one of the lessons I learned."

CHIP SHOTS: England's Lee Westwood withdrew, citing the impending birth of his first child. ... Tournament pairings were announced, and for the second straight year, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player will play together during the first two rounds. They have combined for 13 Masters titles. ... Woods will tee off at 12:57 p.m. Thursday and 10:12 a.m. Friday.

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