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Augusta to be extended again for 2003

Augusta National Golf Club has been lengthened again for the Masters Tournament, with a hole change that extends the course to 7,290 yards for next year's event.

Tournament organizers said the tee at the par-4 fifth hole has been moved back and the fairway bunkers have been extended 80 yards toward the green. The changes stretch the hole to 455 yards from 435.

``This improvement continues our commitment to accuracy off the tee,'' Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson said in a statement. ``Recently, the fairway bunkers did not come into play. This change should once again make the bunkers an integral part of the hole.''

To carry the two bunkers, players must now drive the ball approximately 315 yards. In addition, the fairway and bunkers were shifted to the right, increasing the dogleg characteristic of the hole.

The scoring average at Augusta's fifth hole was 4.16 during this year's Masters, which Tiger Woods won with a score of 12- under-par. It was the third consecutive year the champion was at least 10-under.

Following the 2001 Masters, tournament officials lengthened the course by 285 yards, the biggest renovation in Augusta's 70- year history. Nine of the course's 18 holes were modified to combat improvements in golf technology that have allowed today's players to hit the ball farther.

Rain at this year's Masters prevented officials from fully gauging the effect of the alterations, though there were only 78 rounds under par, down from 118 in 2001.

The 7,290-yard Augusta course will be the sixth-longest in major championship history. Hazeltine National Golf Club, the site of last week's PGA Championship, measured 7,360 yards, making it the fourth-longest course to host a major.

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