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Masters Features
Augusta defends course changes
What a difference a year makes for Duval
Nicklaus not impressed with Augusta changes
Chris Perry wins Par 3 competition
Pressure on Garcia to follow Woods steps
Players surprised by the narrow Augusta fairways
Paul Lawrie impressed on first Masters visit
Betting odds for Masters 2000
Clarke ready to tame Tiger again
Olazabal not confident of repeating 1999 success
Tiger Woods geared up for Masters challenge
Monday at the Masters busy as usual
Leading contenders for Masters 2000
Tiger Woods stalks idol Nicklaus' legacy
Work on Augusta National never stops
Is Augusta turning into a regular course ?
Sutton hoping to break bad Masters run
More rough and narrow fairways for Masters 2000
Tiger Woods centre of Masters attention
Nicklaus wondering if he still has a chance
7 players who would have been at Augusta any other year
Pairings for Thursday & Friday
2000 Masters Field
Tiger Woods centre of Masters attention

Tiger Woods wasn't at the BellSouth Classic that concluded on Sunday in Duluth, Ga. The long shadow the 24-year-old has cast over professional golf in the last 10 months was.

Paul Stankowski, who finished tied for 15th at the BellSouth, said the Augusta National Golf Club probably looked upon the BellSouth event as a mini-tour tournament because Woods wasn't entered.

Also during the week, Nick Price said there are certain courses where the long-hitting Woods is tough to beat, singling out the spacious Augusta National.

``When he is ready to play and is firing on all cylinders and you get him on the right type of golf course that suits him, he is very, very difficult to beat,'' said Price, adding that the rough that was introduced at the Augusta National in 1999 ``might have affected him a little bit.''

Woods will be the center of attention when the three days of practice rounds for the 64th Masters begin today. Of the starting field of 95, 38 had already checked in by Sunday night.

They are Tommy Aaron, Aaron Baddeley, Seve Ballesteros, Notah Begay, Gay Brewer, Mark Brooks, Billy Casper, John Daly, Bob Estes, Raymond Floyd, Doug Ford, Jim Furyk, Fred Funk, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, David Gossett, Danny Green, Jay Haas, Dudley Hart, Gabriel Hjertstedt, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Steve Jones, Skip Kendall, Sung Yoon Kim, Bernhard Langer, Justin Leonard, Shigeki Maruyama, Jumbo Ozaki, Joe Ozaki, Craig Parry, Dennis Paulson, Jeff Sluman, Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker, Kirk Triplett and Ian Woosnam.

The twenty-three Masters participants who survived the cut in the BellSouth Classic made their way here Sunday after the BellSouth's final round was rained out for everyone but the two 54-hole co-leaders. Phil Mickelson beat Gary Nicklaus on the first hole of sudden death for his 15th PGA Tour title in nine years on the tour.

Don't look for Mickelson at the Augusta National today. He's taking the day off.

Sixty-one of the top 63 players in the Official World Rankings are in the Masters field. The only ones missing are No. 58 Michael Campbell and No. 60 Olin Browne.

The hoopla surrounding Woods is befitting a player who has won eight of his last 13 starts, is ranked No. 1 in the world by a huge margin and is the prohibitive favorite to win his second Masters. After eight victories in 1999, Woods has won three times in seven starts this season, finished out of the top 10 only once and has won $3,231,731. Starting with the Memorial Tournament in early June, Woods has won 10 times.

The last time there was this much interest in the Masters was 1997, when Woods made his first appearance in the tournament as a professional. All he did was set tournament records for scoring (18-under-par 280) and margin of victory (12 shots). Since then, he's tied for eighth in 1998 and tied for 18th last year.

Woods won't be the only storyline this week, just the biggest one.

Other players who will be in the spotlight are defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal, Jack Nicklaus, John Daly, Baddeley and Jean Van de Velde.

Olazabal has been struggling to regain the form that brought him his second Masters title, in 1999. At the BellSouth Classic, he showed some of his old form, finishing tied for 37th place after rounds of 71-72-70-213.

Nicklaus, the six-time Masters champion, is returning after missing the 1999 Masters because of hip replacement surgery. He finished tied for sixth in the 1998 Masters at age 58 on ``one bad leg,'' as he called it.

The unpredictable Daly is in the final year of a five-year Masters exemption for winning the 1995 British Open. With his inconsistent play, Daly's Masters future is cloudy at best.

Baddeley is a 19-year-old Australian who became the rare amateur to receive an international invitation from the Masters committee. The invitation came soon after Baddeley won the Australian Open in November, beating such pros as Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie.

Van de Velde will be the first professional from France to play in the Masters. He earned his invitation by finishing tied for second in the 1999 British Open, where he blew a three-shot lead with one hole to play. Afterward, he showed grace and humour in defeat, endearing himself to the golfing public.

Now playing the PGA Tour full time for the first time, the congenial Van de Velde has been greeted with sympathy and encouragement almost every where he has gone.

Many of the players who teed it up in the BellSouth Classic did so because the TPC at Sugarloaf course has many similarities to the Augusta National.

``The greens (at the BellSouth) are shaved and very quick and undulating like Augusta National's,'' Mickelson said. ``That shot into No. 18 looks identical to No. 15 at Augusta, straight downhill over water with that bank.''

``This is more suited for you to get ready for Augusta than any other course,'' said Lee Janzen, who missed the cut.

``This was a real good warmup for going to Augusta,'' said Steve Elkington, who had never played the TPC at Sugarloaf before this year. ``I don't think I'll miss this tournament now.''


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