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Then, it'll be time to turn it over to the guys who can hit it a lot farther.
No one will be under more scrutiny than Woods, the four-time champion and No. 1 player in the world. No one ever earned so much money playing a game. After winning the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, it's hard to find anyone who took as mighty a tumble as Tiger.
"He should do pretty good -- he's coming off a win," Robert Allenby cracked.
Woods appeared to be as interested in his behavior as his performance during the practice rounds. He was smiling more, making eye contact, even signing autographs.
Payne declined to discuss what type of security was in place, nor was he overly concerned that the return of Woods might overshadow a tournament that attracts the largest golf audience of the year.
"We are very secure in who we are, and the Masters has almost now a 74-year history," Payne said. "We just kind of do things our way. We are not threatened by other big news stories or things like that."
Even so, there has been little attention on anything else this week.
Ernie Els, the only player with multiple PGA Tour victories this year, was not invited to the media center for a pre-tournament interview.
Steve Stricker is No. 2 in the world, with four victories over the last year putting him among the best players who have never won a major. He was introduced at a news conference Tuesday as an eight-time PGA Tour winner who has played on three Presidents Cup and one Ryder Cup team and is making his 10th appearance in the Masters.
"A major," he said. "Is that the way I'm supposed to answer that?"
There are four teenagers in the field, and three Italians, but only one 60-year-old. Most of the old champions have faded away, with Raymond Floyd heading to the sideline two days before the start of the tournament. The 67-year-old didn't even bother with a couple of farewell rounds.
Not that anyone would have noticed.
This tournament is all about Woods, and the chance to start anew.
Payne certainly hopes he takes it.
"We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time, with a significant difference from the past," he said. "This year, it will not be just for him, but for all of us who believe in second chances."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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