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Calcavecchia not afraid of buddy Tiger

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 8, 2001


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Mark Calcavecchia had hoped to play in the final group today with Tiger Woods, and it took a final-hole birdie from Phil Mickelson to prevent it.

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Mark Calcavecchia had hoped to play in the final group today with Tiger Woods, and it took a final-hole birdie from Phil Mickelson to prevent it.

Calcavecchia, who finished second to Sandy Lyle at the 1988 Masters, has become fast friends with Woods. They frequently play practice rounds together and share Butch Harmon as a coach.

"I think he kind of gets a kick out of me, in a way, somebody who's a little different, a little bit off the cuff, so to speak," Calcavecchia said. "We get along real well. I'm not afraid to tell him what I think."

And Calcavecchia, who begins the final round two shots behind, is not afraid to go head to head with Woods.

"Tiger doesn't make me nervous, himself or his presence or anything else," Calcavecchia said.

RECENT HISTORY: Although he has stood in Woods' path before, Mickelson didn't exactly shine recently when paired with Woods. They will be in the final group today, but two weeks ago at the Players Championship they played together in the third round, and Mickelson shot 72 to fall out of contention as Woods shot 66 to get in the hunt. Mickelson shot 77 in the final round, and Woods shot 67 to win.

BIG MONEY: The purse is $5.6-million, with $1,008,000 going to the winner, the tournament announced. Vijay Singh won $828,000 last year. The runner-up will receive $604,800, with a 10th-place finish worth $151,200.

SLOW PLAY: Franklin Langham, who grew up in Augusta, didn't have much fun Saturday. Playing with Jonathan Kaye during the third round, they were timed for slow play after they got behind on the fifth hole.

"It left a sour taste in our mouths," said Langham, who shot 75 to finish at 4-over 220. "It cost me at least two or three shots. What can you do? All you're doing is rushing. These are the toughest greens in the world and you can't be rushed. I can guarantee they won't time the last group."

After a player is put on the clock, he can incur a penalty for slow play.

STREAKING: Former Masters champions Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples have managed to keep alive their impressive streaks for cuts made at the tournament. Langer, who won in 1985 and 1993, is playing the weekend for the 18th straight year. Couples, the 1992 champion, is doing so for the 17th straight year. But it wasn't easy. Couples made it right on the number of 145 and had to get down in two putts from 45 feet on the 18th green Friday afternoon.

"I can't say I wasn't thinking about it," Couples said. "I knew I had made every cut at the Masters. The streak is nice."

Safety Harbor's John Huston has the next-best streak at 12. Three-time Masters champion Gary Player holds the record of 23, having made the cut from 1959-1982.

CHIP SHOTS: Singh shot 73, his first over-par round in 39 this year on the PGA Tour. He was at 213, nine shots behind Woods. ... The par-4 first hole ranked as the toughest on the course, yielding just one birdie to Dudley Hart. The par-3 sixth yielded no birdies. ... In each of his five major championship victories, Woods had held or shared the third-round lead. ... One way to assure an invitation to next year's Masters is to finish in the top 16 (ties included). Bradenton's Paul Azinger starts today a shot out of the top 16.

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