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Masters to give former champions reprieve

Masters chairman Hootie Johnson has given Arnold Palmer and other older former champions a reprieve.

The Augusta Chronicle reported Saturday that Augusta National was about to rescind its age-limit policy, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Sunday that former champions received express mail letters Saturday announcing the change. The Atlanta newspaper said a public announcement is expected Monday.

Johnson established a new policy last year that set an age limit of 65, provided a past champion plays at least 10 events the preceding year. The policy was to go into effect in 2004.

The 73-year-old Palmer, a 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 playing in the tournament.

Giffin also said an announcement was expected Monday from Augusta National. "I can only say he loves to play in that tournament," Giffin said.

The decision comes one day after Jack Nicklaus, 63, said he would play in the Masters for the 43rd time.

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