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MASTERS NOTES

Clarke Gets Away From It All, Then Back in It

April 08, 2006|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

AUGUSTA, Ga. — For Darren Clarke, there was nothing like taking a vacation to get ready for the Masters, where his second-round 70 moved him to two under after 36 holes and into a tie for fifth.

Clarke and his wife, Heather, who is battling cancer, traveled with their two children to a resort in the Bahamas last week. Clarke said getting away from it all helped his game.

"I've forgotten what I should be doing and just gone out and hit it," he said. "And it's working. I am very comfortable and relaxed out there and just taking whatever the course gives me.

"You know, sometimes when you get completely away from the game and hardly touch the clubs, it brings back what is really important and golf isn't that important. I am not bothered by anything."

Clarke doesn't think he has ever been so relaxed at a major.

"Probably not. I am hitting it nicely and I'll try to keep it going," he said. "There are a lot of people who want to win this a lot more than I do. I would love to do it myself, but it's not that important."

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The forecast for today calls for an 80% chance of rain -- showers and thunderstorms in the morning before noon, then partly cloudy skies with more showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon.

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A 75 was good enough for Colin Montgomerie to make the cut -- for only about half an hour, until Chad Campbell's birdie at the 18th moved Montgomerie out of the margin of being within 10 shots of the lead.

Also packing his bags because of Campbell's birdie were U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and 1991 Masters champion Ian Woosnam. Like Montgomerie, they would have made the cut by being within 10 shots of Campbell.

Montgomerie has missed the cut at the Masters four times in his last five trips.

"You need a bit of fortune here and I had no fortune at all," he said. "But never mind. I didn't putt very well, I never really putt very well here."

Montgomerie made three birdies in 36 holes.

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It was quite a comeback, but 68-year-old Charles Coody from Abilene, Texas, who won the Masters 35 years ago, isn't coming back again.

At least he went out with a bang, a two-over 74, quite a difference from his opening round of 89, but still not enough to make the cut. But Coody, whose son, Kyle, caddied for him, said it was quite a day.

"This is my last Masters, so it feels good to play well. It's just time to quit. It will hit me when I say, 'OK, that's it.' I'm so glad I had my boy with me the last time I played."

Coody won twice on the PGA Tour and the 1971 Masters. He also won five times on what was the Senior PGA Tour, the last time in 1996. He finished in the top 60 on the PGA Tour money list for 13 consecutive years.

"I want to be remembered as a nice guy and a fairly decent player," said Coody, who last made the Masters cut in 1993. "A good family man. I'm not a Hall of Famer, but a nice guy."

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