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Bay Hill Invitational - News and Notes

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Its not that Matt Kuchar doesnt trust his father, but this time he needed some confirmation.
 
Kuchar woke up Monday morning, following his first career PGA Tour victory in the Honda Classic, and was greeted with a phone call from his dad.
 
He called me and says, Guess what? The first thing that comes to my mind, I was thinking that hes going to say I got in the Masters; and sure enough, he says I got in the Masters, Kuchar said.
 
Thanks to his win, Kuchar vaulted from No. 147 to No. 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The top 50 after the Honda Classic earned a berth into the elite Augusta field.
 
I didnt believe him. I wasnt going to believe him. I figured it was probably true, but at the same point, I figured, theres no way that what I did had gotten me in the Masters.
 
It took about three or four more phone calls telling me I was in the Masters before I finally said, Holy cow, I think Im really in the Masters.
 
Its been a whirlwind few days since Kuchar claimed his first professional title, similar to when he won the 1997 U.S. Amateur Championship.
 
I remember looking at the phone on Sunday night, when I finally finished all the interviews and signed all the autographs, and there were 40 messages, and that just ' it intimidated me. I was really excited by it, but it also intimidated me.
 
Kuchar said he listend to each and every message, and that, despite being taken to task for not turning pro and cashing in after winning the Amateur, he had no message for his critics.
 
Well, Im not one to ever say I told you so, he said. You let your actions kind of speak for themselves and people make their own generalizations after.
Upon turning pro in 2000, Kuchar played everywhere from Australia to South America. He even traveled by bus to play tournaments in Mexico. He earned his 2002 PGA Tour card by making enough money in 11 events in 01, all via sponsors exemptions.
 
The 23-year-old Georgia Tech graduate will be making his first Masters appearance since a tie for 50th in 1999. And though he made a hole-in-one with his grandfather on the bag in the par-3 contest and made the cut, it was a disappointing week, as he was battling an illness.
 
Kuchar debuted at Augusta in 98, when he played his way to a tie for 14th.
 
I always thought I would be back, he said.
 
A One-Day Getaway
 
Arnold Palmer played Wednesday at Isleworth with good friend and Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. Ridge is a former governor of Pennsylvania, Palmers home state.
 
Weve known each other for about 10 years, said Ridge.
 
Ridge claims a 14-handicap, though he said he hasnt played since Labor Day.
 
Im in Florida, playing with Arnold Palmer, theres beautiful weather ' who cares about the score? Ridge said with a laugh.
 
Ridge, with secret service agents on hand, was in Orlando for only one day. He returns to Washington, D.C., Thursday to resume his duties as the countrys chief of security.
 
Withdrawals
 
Dicky Pride withdrew Wednesday, allowing Kenneth Staton into the field. Pride joins Jim Furyk and Mark Brooks on the withdrawal list. Furyk withdrew for the third straight event due to a lingering illness. Brooks withdrew because of a sore back. Kent Jones and Greg Kraft have taken their spots.