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Nicklaus Expects Woods to Join an Exclusive Club


AUGUSTA, Ga. — So who's going to win the Masters? Jack Nicklaus, who has won six times, says it's clear to him that Tiger Woods will repeat.

Nicklaus and Nick Faldo are the only two players who have won back-to-back Masters, but Nicklaus says he is certain Woods will be the third.

"I don't know that repeating is as hard as winning [the first time]," Nicklaus said. "Once you've won, you usually come back beaming with confidence.

"So I think the second time is easier than the first time. [Woods'] chances of winning, you know, I'll be very surprised if he doesn't win.

"My opinion by what the nature of the game is, if he plays just normal, I think he'll probably win the golf tournament. If he plays poorly, I think he'll still be in contention. If he plays well, I think he'll run away with the golf tournament."


When the Masters honored Nicklaus for his 40 years at the tournament by putting a plaque on a drinking fountain between the 16th green and 17th tee, there was only one question . . .

A drinking fountain?

Nicklaus birdied the 16th hole three times on the final day to win three of his Masters, including in 1986 when he won his last one.

Actually, there is a good deal of superstructure at Augusta National that's named for famous people. Gene Sarazen has a bridge named for him at No. 15, Ben Hogan has his bridge at No. 12 and Byron Nelson has a bridge at No. 13.

In 1995, Arnold Palmer got a plaque, which was also put on a drinking fountain behind the 16th tee.


Sandy Lyle won the rain-shortened par-three event with a score of 24, lowest among the 16 players who finished their rounds before heavy showers sent competitors scurrying for cover.

A year ago, Lyle won the par-three with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff with Mark McNulty.

David Duval had the only hole in one Wednesday on the picturesque course.

Among the players who didn't get to tee off was U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar, who was planning to use his grandfather as his caddie.

"I wish I could have played," Kuchar said. "The par-three always sounded like so much fun. The crowd really gets into it."


The scheduled tee times for today's opening round were pushed back one hour. With more rain forecast for Wednesday night, Augusta National officials wanted to ensure they had enough time to prepare the course.


The course is pretty much unchanged, even after Woods rewrote the record book.

"Last year was an unusual year," Jack Stephens, chairman of Augusta National, said. "The record [score] was broken after 32 years by only one shot. We don't think there's any cause for alarm. . . . Until the players use this new equipment and prove to us the scores are too low, we're not worried."


Trivia time: Impress your friends with these items:

--There are 60 magnolia trees on Magnolia Lane, the famous entry to Augusta National.

--Magnolia Lane was paved for the first time in 1947.

--It's 250 yards from the Gate 2 entrance on Washington Road to the clubhouse.


Star power: Featured first-round pairings include Woods and U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar from Georgia Tech, Fred Couples and Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Lee Westwood, Ian Woosnam and John Daly, Tom Lehman and Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els and Duval.


Top 10s: For what it's worth, Hogan's 17 top-10 finishes in 25 Masters (68%) is the best of anyone playing at least 13 times.

Others in the top-10 top 10 are Tom Watson, (15 of 24, 62.5%), Lloyd Mangrum (12 of 20, 60%), Nicklaus (21 of 39, 53.8%), Couples (seven of 13, 53.8%), Tom Kite (12 of 24, 50%), Ed Dudley (seven of 14, 50%), Nelson (14 of 29, 48.3%), Norman (eight of 17, 47.1%) and Jim Ferrier (seven of 15, 46.7%).


The Cut Master: That would be Couples, who has played in 13 Masters and made the cut each time.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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