Notes Players Improvise During Delays

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Charles Howell III and Luke Donald sat around a TV set watching arm wrestling. Darren Clarke took a nap. Ben Crenshaw read a book. Stephen Ames hit the pro shop to buy souvenirs with the rest of the masses.
 
With rain delaying the Masters again Friday, players scrambled to find something - anything - to do.
 
'You can't go home because the traffic is so bad,' Nick O'Hern said. 'I went to the PGA van to work out and read the newspaper.'
 
The tournament was delayed 5 1/2 hours Thursday, and another 3 1/2 hours Friday before play was suspended. Some players haven't even started their second round.
 
'I warmed up three or four different times,' Mark O'Meara said. 'That's very disheartening for players and for fans. Everybody wants to get out on the golf course.'
 
Instead, they're all trying to find new ways to kill time.
 
Ames, a first-time Masters participant, headed to the pro shop with his wife, Jodi, shortly after play was halted so he could fill 'tons' of souvenir requests.
 
Ames looked more like a tourist than a golfer as he meandered through the shop carrying hats and checking out shirts, belts and clubs.
 
He held off buying something for himself.
 
While endless delays may reach the annoyance level other places, most players didn't seem to mind them too much at Augusta National.
 
'Not every clubhouse is like this one,' he said.
 
Howell agreed.
 
'It's a great locker room,' he said. 'We can order food and it's good food. So we're happy.'
 
DOWN, NOT OUT:
Duffers, take heart. Even Ernie Els struggles to find the right club sometimes.
 
Last year's runner-up finished his first round at 3-over 75 Friday, and blamed his poor start on bad club selection. He spent much of Thursday in the trees at Augusta National, and had four bogeys in his first nine holes. He birdied two holes Friday, but also had a double-bogey on the par-3 No. 4.
 
'I couldn't get my yardages right. My club selection was way off, really cost me a lot of shots,' Els said. 'It's a fine line. I'm trying to be as aggressive as I can, but I think I was a bit silly.'
 
Els' rough outing left him eight strokes behind first-round leader Chris DiMarco - hardly the start he needed to win his first green jacket. But the three-time major winner isn't conceding anything yet.
 
'A 75 is not a great score,' he said. 'But on this course, it's not out of it.'
 
In 2003, Els opened with a 79. He got right back into the mix with a 66 in the second round, and wound up tied for sixth.
 
FASHION POLICE:
Darren Clarke would have blended in quite nicely down at Amen Corner.
 
Clarke wore a fuschia shirt, black-and-fuschia checked pants and a light pink visor Friday - the same hues as the azaleas that line the 12th green and 13th tee. Only Clarke's ensemble wasn't quite so picturesque.
 
Asked if he had something equally colorful picked out for Saturday's round, he smiled and said, 'Eh, no.'
 
TIGER'S TAP-IN:
Tiger Woods escaped a two-stroke penalty on the 14th hole of his first round when he leaned over to tap in for par and it appeared his right foot was behind the line of his putt.
 
Rule 16-1e does not allow players to putt with either foot touching the line or an extension of the line from the hole beyond the ball. After reviewing the putt, officials deemed the tape inconclusive.
 
Turns out that rule is under review.
 
'That rule was intended to eliminate the croquet putting style,' said Tom Meeks, senior director of rules and competition for the USGA. 'We wanted to at least review with the R&A and possibly make an exception when someone steps behind his ball to avoid someone's line.'
 
Meeks said he does not believe the Royal & Ancient Golf Club wants to change the rule.
 
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