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Mark O'Meara comes to mind. Few players have been closer to Woods since he first turned pro, although the relationship is not as strong as it once was. Tom Watson is another possibility. If nothing else, he can supervise Woods for any salty language.
Another thought is for the Masters to put an Asian player with Woods as a payoff for its Far East television deals. Then again, that opportunity was around before Woods got into trouble. The only two Asian players to be in his group the first two rounds were Jeev Milkha Singh of India last year and Toshi Izawa of Japan in 2002.
Phil Mickelson volunteered, perhaps because he thrived playing with Woods in the final round a year ago. And when Mickelson won the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last year, it was the first time he had won a tournament while playing in the last group with Woods.
To be sure, some players might want to be in that group just out of curiosity.
They also want to win.
"There's a part of me that would be like, 'That would be a good show to be a part of to just watch.' The best seat in the house," Geoff Ogilvy said. "Then there's a part of me that if you truly, truly, truly want to win the golf tournament, surely you want to stay as far away from it as you can."
Despite all the interest in the pairing, it might prove to be of little consequence to the players along for the ride.
Augusta National is different. The fairways are wider than other majors, meaning the gallery is farther away. No one is allowed inside the ropes except for caddies and a television camera.
Paul Casey likes playing with Woods. Most players do. And while players may grumble about the movement of the media and the gallery, any athlete prefers playing before a full house.
"The sort of scrutiny will be on a level we've never witnessed before," Casey said.
Then he spoke for whoever gets thrown into the group with Woods by adding, "But they won't be watching me."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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