Notes Palmers Goal to Make Cut

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Vijay Singh would be 81 years old by the time he matched Arnold Palmer's streak of 50 straight Masters. Tiger Woods would only be 69, but he had a more simple wish.
 
'I hope I'm not fertilizer by then,' Woods quipped Tuesday.
 
Palmer is playing for the 50th and final time at Augusta National, capping an incredible relationship with the course and tournament. He won the first of four Masters titles in 1958, and gave away many more than that, in his estimation.
 
'From '58, almost up to close to '70, maybe with a few exceptions, I would have had a shot every year,' he said.
 
When he first arrived for the event, he didn't think his game suited the course as it was set up then. The greens were very hard, harder even than now, in his eyes, and required a player to loft his shots high into the green.
 
'They really didn't give me much of a chance because I didn't hit the ball up in the air,' Palmer said. 'And to get the ball around the pin on this golf course, you generally had to hit it up in the air. So I figured out another way.'
 
When asked how he hoped his final tournament would end, more than likely Friday at the 36-hole cut, Palmer was quick with his answer.
 
'I know exactly how I want Friday to unfold. That's the easiest question I've had. I want to see what my starting time is on Saturday,' he said.
 
AMATEUR HOUR
Tiger Woods has a message for amateurs playing in their first Masters - it can't be any worse than it was for him.
 
Woods was a 19-year-old amateur, paired with defending champion Jose Maria Olazabal, when he first played Augusta National in 1995. He was so pumped up that he smashed his drive over the bunkers on the first hole, leaving him a soft wedge that he hit pin-high.
 
'I hit the putt and just missed it on the top side,' Woods said. 'And it kept rolling, and rolling, and the gallery is parting. I keep telling every amateur that story because no matter how bad it seems, how nervous you are, more than likely you'll never have that experience of putting off the green on your first putt in competition.'
 
The good news?
 
'I pitched it back and made a putt,' Woods said. 'So technically, that's a two-putt.'
 
OTHER PLANS
Everyone knows that Phil Mickelson has never won a major. One reporter rubbed it in Tuesday by asking Mickelson what he does on Tuesday night at Augusta National during the Champions Dinner.
 
Mickelson looked perplexed.
 
'Oh, you mean the Champions Dinner is tonight?' he asked. 'I didn't know that.'
 
Then he paused and poked fun at himself.
 
'Well, there's a reason why I don't know that,' he said.
 
BAD TIMING
Vijay Singh was asked about the development of Padraig Harrington, who often is compared to Singh for his practice habits.
 
'He does work hard,' Singh said. 'Every time you go on the driving range or putting green, he's there. You've got to give the guy credit.'
 
At the Players Championship, Singh got a firsthand look at how all the work is paying off when they were paired together in the third round. There was one particular part of Harrington's game that impressed Singh the most.
 
'His pace of play has improved, as well, which is a big thing,' Singh said, drawing laughter.
 
Well, Singh should be happy, then. He is in Harrington's group the first two days.
 
MASTERS BREAKS
For the second straight year, the Masters will be shown commercial-free. That works out just fine for The First Tee, a program designed to bring more kids to the sport.
 
It will provide the public service announcements used during the telecasts, which will be the only interruption of coverage. Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson pulled the commercials because of the controversy involving the club's all-male membership.
 
The First Tee has introduced the game to about 300,000 people since 2000.
 
TIGER'S WARDROBE
For $80, anyone can buy the shirt that Tiger Woods will wear in the first round Thursday.
 
Well, not the exact shirt, but one just like it.
 
Nike issued a news release on the outfits Woods would wear at the Masters, including Thursday's 'twist rib full-button polo in ghost, (with) a light shade of lavender blue,' according to the company.
 
The price for the shirt from Sunday goes up $5, and, of course, it's red.
 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
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  • Tee Times
  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters