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Doug Ford won't make it 50 Masters

Doug Ford, 80 this August, will not be making it 50 Masters at Augusta next month.

The 1957 champion and holder of the record number of appearances in the event has let it be known that, along with 1967 winner Gay Brewer and 1970 winner Billy Casper, he will not be playing on a course lengthened by nearly 300 yards since Tiger Woods won his second title.

Ford last made the halfway cut in 1971, last broke 80 in 1993, returned an opening 94 two years ago before quitting and withdrew after only a few holes last April.

To put his longevity into perspective, Woods would have to play every year until 2043 to equal Ford's record.

He would be 68. Alone of the four majors, the Masters rewards its champions with a lifetime exemption.

But Jack Nicklaus is another to have raised doubts about his participation.

Like Woods, the record six-time champion went to see the new-look lay-out earlier this season and his verdict was typically straight to the point.

"There is every chance I could look foolish," he said.

"I don't have the length and the strength to play that course any more.

"I would say that if the changes have made the course two shots harder for the power players like

Tiger Woods they have made it five shots harder for me.

"I've had a lot of great rounds there, and it is not important for me to go out and play knowing that I have no chance to win.

"The Masters isn't about 60-year-olds like me. It is for the young guys they have made the changes, and that is absolutely right."

Nicklaus is 61 and was sixth only four years ago. But he did not play in 1999 following his hip replacement and missed the cut last year.

A decision on whether he plays is expected the week before the Masters.

One golden oldie who will be on view is Sam Snead but only for one shot.

Snead, 90 in May, will be the sole honorary starter following Byron Nelson's decision to make last year his final time to hit the ceremonial first shots.

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