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Chris DiMarco returns to action after Masters

It's amazing how much confidence a second-place finish gave Chris DiMarco.

Of course, the result was at the Masters, where he went head-to-head with Tiger Woods for the green jacket before losing in a sudden-death playoff.

``To beat the field by seven shots at that tournament. It just was awesome to be able to go perform like that,'' said DiMarco, playing for the first time since Augusta in this week's Zurich Classic. ``I feel like I really kind of elevated my game and hopefully moved to a new level.''

The grit and determination DiMarco showed at the Masters and won the crowd over. His performance also won over people everywhere he goes.

``I don't think I can remember the last time where I have been congratulated so many times for losing,'' DiMarco said.

The duel with Woods was enthralling.

When DiMarco went from a four-shot lead to a three-shot deficit to Woods, everyone thought he was finished. But DiMarco refused to back down, making par on the last two holes to force the playoff.

``It just shows that I've got guts,'' DiMarco said. ``I know that if I dig deep enough, you know what, I can push away the fears, and I can push away the bad thoughts, and I could just go ahead and play golf.''

Looking back, DiMarco had regrets, but none came from the way he played.

``I'm still disappointed I didn't bring the green jacket home,'' he said. ``But like I said, his chip went in and my chip didn't go it.

``If it's reversed, it's the other way around. I can look back and truly tell myself that I did everything in my power to win that golf tournament. I just got beat.''

DiMarco believes the experience will change his game for the better. He knows it's changed his life.

``I used to be able to go into Target, I used to be able to go to the grocery store, I used to be able to go to the bowling alley, and kind of have my anonymity,'' DiMarco said. ``It's not quite there anymore.

``It goes with it. I'm quite honored to tell you the truth, to have that many people actually care that much about me not winning.''

The Zurich Classic is being played on the new TPC of Louisiana. The course, which replaced the Jack Nicklaus-designed English Turn, opened in the spring of 2004.

After Wednesday's Pro-Am, Joe Ogilvie said this year's tournament will not resemble the low-scoring affairs at the old course.

``At English Turn, you thought 69, 68 was par,'' said Ogilvie, who finished second last year behind Vijay Singh. ``Out here, if you shoot 69 or 68 you'll be lapping the field I think. It's a tough, tough golf course.''

Singh, winner of the Houston Open last week, is trying to become the first player to successfully defend titles in consecutive weeks since Johnny Miller won in Phoenix and Tucson in 1974-75.

``We'll just have to wait to see on Sunday,'' Singh said.


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