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Mixed feelings about a longer Augusta

Tiger Woods has mixed feelings but Phil Mickelson has no objection to the lengthening of Augusta National for this year's U.S. Masters.

The famous par-72 layout has been stretched an extra 155 yards to 7,445 yards for the April 6-9 tournament, making it the second longest course in major championship history.

Six of Augusta National's holes have been lengthened since Woods clinched his fourth Masters title last year with the tees at the par-four first, par-three fourth, par-four seventh and 11th, par-five 15th and par-four 17th all moved back.

"If the fairways are firm and they're running, then I can see it being a great test," Woods said.

"But if they're soft, then I think it eliminates a lot of guys that have the skill to play but they just don't hit the ball far enough.

"The prerequisite now is you have to hit the ball long. Length has always been an advantage in this sport. It always has been and always will be.

"You just need to make it fair for all the rest of the competitors, as well."

Mickelson, who won his first major title at the 2004 Masters, believes the lengthening of the layout is in keeping with the tournament.

"I don't have a problem with it because I think it's what's identified with Augusta, its length," he said.

"We've always thought that the players that win at Augusta are the longest hitters. We always thought the players that win at the U.S. Open are straighter.

"At the British Open, they are low ball hitters and at the (U.S.) PGA (Championship), there's always a little mixture. So it's staying consistent with what the tournament has always tried to be."

Although the American left-hander has not played Augusta National since its latest stretching, he expects a formidable challenge in three month's time.

"I think it's going to be very challenging," Mickelson said. "I thought it played very long last year when it was a little wet and we did not get the normal roll.

"The ball rolls on the fairways longer at Augusta than it does anywhere else. To make it longer, it's going to be even more difficult, especially if it doesn't play hard and fast."



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