Notes Leftys Wild Idea Tigers Dog Taz


AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters is bringing out the metal in just about everyone.
For Phil Mickelson, that means two drivers.

With an eye on Augusta National, Mickelson put two drivers in his bag during the BellSouth Classic. It worked so well, he said he would try it at the Masters.
'It's a big promo Callaway and I are doing now -- the only thing better than one FT-3 is two FT-3s,' Mickelson said with a laugh.
But it's not quite the same club.
One driver is an inch longer, and allows him to hit a power draw that moves from left to right. At the BellSouth Classic, he flew the green on the 13th hole, a short par, which he had never been able to do. The other driver allows him to hit a controlled fade, the shot Mickelson relied heavily on when he won the Masters two years ago.
'There are a number of holes where you can move the ball left-to-right and have it be very effective,' Mickelson said. 'I can hit a little controlled cut on the holes where distance isn't as big of a factor. And I can use the draw driver and get a little extra pop on some holes. It's nice having that little extra punch.'
Mickelson began experimenting with a longer club during the West Coast Swing, but he could only hit the draw. He tinkered with the internal weighting of the club, and found a unique solution.
'I used the internal weighting to take the left side out of play so it draws, and I use the other driver to take the right side out of play,' Mickelson said. 'So now I just play with half the trouble.'
With a 14-club limit, that means he'll have to take another club out of the bag.
Mickelson says the sand wedge is out of the rotation -- he still has a lob wedge, gap wedge and pitching wedge. With the extra driver, he said he would take out the 3-iron or 4-iron, or perhaps the 7-iron or 8-iron, depending on the conditions.
Tiger Woods was asked if he ever carried two drivers.
'Well, one driver in two pieces, but that's about it,' he said.
Ernie Els, meanwhile, is using a 5-wood for the 240-yard fourth hole. Els usually carries a 2-iron, and he was asked the last time he used a 5-wood in competition.
'I think I was in junior golf,' Els said.
He has been working on a 5-wood from Titleist for the last week, realizing the extra height will come in handy.
'Ever since I played here three or four weeks ago, I could see a 5-wood
Tiger Woods' father is battling cancer. He is the defending champion. The course has been changed again, with six holes playing longer. And the first question presented to Woods at his press conference was?
Why did his wife buy him a border collie for Christmas?
Woods named the dog Taz, short for Tasmania, and he brought it with him to The Players Championship.
'As everyone knows, I'm a pretty active guy,' Woods said. 'Taking my little buddy out there on runs is awfully fun. Unfortunately, his pace is a little bit faster than mine, so I've had to learn how to pick it up. He just loves to run all day. Sometimes it can be a bit annoying. But most of the time, it's pretty cool.'
Chris DiMarco skipped The Players Championship because of a rib injury suffered while skiing, but says he is about 90 percent healthy and expects no problems this week.
DiMarco had his sunglasses and cell phone in a back pack, making his last run, when a couple of skiers emerged out of the trees and were headed in his direction. He tried to avoid them, rolled on his back, and one of the items in his pack gouged into his side.
He missed the cut last week in Atlanta, attributing that more to rust.
'My foot started hurting because I was not putting much pressure on that side of my body,' he said. 'I feel like I'm 90 percent, 95 percent, and hopefully by Thursday, I'll be 100 percent.'
Any more skiing vacations in his future?
'Golf is my job, but I'm going to live my life,' he said. 'It was a very fluky thing. I could have walked out of my garage and tripped over my kid's baseball helmet and banged up my knee. I'm going to keep going skiing.'
Arnold Palmer is not wild about the changes to Augusta National, particularly the par-4 11th. What bothers him more than the additional 15 yards that puts it at 505 yards, is the 50 or so pine trees planted down the right side of the fairway.
And not because of the penalty, but the gallery.
Palmer believes the trees restrict the view of the fans who want to follow the flight of the ball to the green, which is guarded by a pond on the left. And it reminded him of one year when he won the Masters.
'I drove it to the left-center of the fairway, and I had to go to the bathroom,' he said. 'I walked down (to the left) into the woods and took a leak. And when I came out of the woods, the gallery gave me a standing ovation. They all clapped and raised hell. 'Everything came out all right, Arnie?' They were having fun. And I was playing good.'
He noticed a different kind of change the next year.
'There was an outhouse,' Palmer said. 'Cliff Roberts built a john, which is still there.'
The 23-year-old man was making his first trip to Augusta National, and a special badge allowed him on the course a few minutes before everyone else, giving him enough time to watch Tiger Woods without fighting the masses.
'This place is beautiful,' he said with wonder in his voice.
There are thousands like him at Augusta National, but what made this remarkable was the name on his badge.
Michael Watson, the son of two-time Masters champion Tom Watson.
'There was always a conflict,' he said when asked why he never made it to the Masters until this week. 'I've been to the British Open a lot, and a couple of U.S. Opens. I love the British Open.'
And he was quickly falling in love with the Masters, where his dad won in 1977 and 1981.
His father gave him the full treatment, inviting Michael to play a practice round with him on Sunday, the final day members could play before the tournament.
The longest line of the week is not for the merchandise tent. The gates open at 7 a.m., but spectators are not allowed on the golf course until 8 a.m. There were some 2,000 people crammed behind a wooden barricade at 7:45 a.m., watching Tiger Woods go up the first fairway, looking at their watches. Fifteen minutes later, from a distance, they looked like ants streaming across the course, heading in Woods' direction. ... Callaway Golf is having its staff players use a special golf bag in green and white, with yellow trim.
The 21 countries represented in the field is a record for the Masters.
'A lot more confident than had I missed the cut.' -- Phil Mickelson, asked how confident he was about the Masters after winning in Atlanta by 13 shots.
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