Players Getting Primed for Augusta

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Will it help or will it hinder?
 
Thats the question many players have to ask themselves when trying to decide whether or not to play the week before a major championship.
 
You have to find what works for you, said Tiger Woods.
 
And what works for Woods, at least the week before the Masters, is practicing at home.
 
Despite having won the 1998 BellSouth Classic, the worlds No. 1 will not be at the TPC at Sugarloaf this week.
 
Instead, he will be doing whatever it is he does at his Orlando home to get himself properly prepared to try and end his six-major winless drought.
 
Likewise, Ernie Els wont be in attendance.
 
Following two days of semi-competition in the made-for-television, pay-for-play Tavistock Cup, near his home in Lake Nona, outside of Orlando, Fla., Els will take a trip up to Augusta National on Thursday for a course preview.
 
He said he normally likes to stay competitive leading up to a major, but his last trip to Sugarloaf saw him shooting 81 in the third round en route to a 44th-place showing.
 
I didnt have a great experience in Atlanta, he said. Nothing against the golf course. I think its good that they have that type of course before the Masters because the greens are very similar.
 
Its the golf course that attracts many in the field as they ready for Augusta National.
 
They are identical to what we'll see next week at Augusta, Phil Mickelson said of the firm, fast and undulating Sugarloaf greens. Great preparation.
 
Mickelson won this event in 2000, and has played each of the last five seasons. And it might be more than just coincidence that he has finished in the top 10 at the Masters each of the last five years, as well.
 
Ben Crane is the defending champion.
 
Crane made the cut by one stroke and then shot 64-63 over the weekend to win his first PGA Tour event.
 
The victory wasnt enough to propel him into last years Masters, and he wont be making his first visit this season either, as he didnt finish high enough in the world rankings or on the money list to qualify.
 
No one has won this tournament in back-to-back years; though, Hale Irwin won in 1975 and 77, while the event was not contested in 76.
 
Notables in the field include last week's winner Adam Scott; Mike Weir, who will try and defend his Masters title next week; Mercedes winner Stuart Appleby; David Toms; Padraig Harrington; FBR Open champion Jonathan Kaye; and course designer Greg Norman.
 
The purse is $4.5 million, with $810,000 going to the winner.
 
Retief Goosen, the 2002 BellSouth winner, decided to skip the tournament after missing the cut at The Players Championship.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - BellSouth Classic