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Archive for Monday, April 9, 2007

Officials lighten up for final round

April 9, 2007

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— After the third-round bloodbath that took place, Augusta National showed some mercy Sunday.

Or more accurately, Augusta National's setup men.

Seeing how Saturday's bogeyfest had drained the electricity out of the third round, officials came back Sunday with pin positions kinder than even the usual generous Sunday placement.

"They were probably one or two steps easier than where they normally are," runner-up Tiger Woods said. "They gave us a break, which was nice. They gave us a chance to go out there and score."

Combined with slightly warmer temperatures and only a slight breeze, the difference was striking. Whereas just one player (Retief Goosen) broke par Saturday, 13 golfers did it Sunday.

Each of the top four finishers except Woods shot 69s on Sunday, and there were three more 70s. The final-round scoring average of 74.33 was more than three shots better than 24 hours earlier.

More important, roars could be heard from the pines and dogwoods as well as groans.

Even so, this week's scoring average of 75.881 goes down as the fifth-highest in Masters history and most since 1966.

¢Sore subject: Fred Couples gleaned few positives from his closing 71, even though it was one of Sunday's 13 under-par rounds. His aching back just wouldn't let him enjoy it.

"This round didn't encourage me to play more," said Couples, who tied Gary Player's record earlier this week by making his 23rd consecutive Masters cut. "Even if I wanted to, I couldn't play next week."

¢Time to digest: Brett Wetterich is going to need a couple of days to digest the roller coaster he was on in his first Masters.

The Jupiter, Fla., pro led after each of the first two days, then imploded with a third-round 83. Sunday brought a 77, leaving him in a tie for 37th.

"A lot of stuff happened this week," Wetterich said. "Not only being my first time, but having the lead after two rounds. It's going to take a couple of days to realize what happened here."

¢Double double: Phil Mickelson wasn't the only player in the field who went with two drivers this week. So did Jeev Milkha Singh, the first native of India to compete at Augusta National.

"It is perfect for me," said Singh, whose opening 72 was his best round of the week. He wound up tied for 37th.

Singh reached well into his collection for the second driver - a 13-year-old TaylorMade bubble-shafted model that he could hit off the ground.

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