Wednesday, April 08, 2009

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Perennial Masters favorite Tiger Woods, who will go for his fifth green jacket this week, played nine holes in warmer weather Wednesday morning with his usual practice round partner, long-hitting lefty Bubba Watson, and Robert Karlsson of Sweden.While Karlsson was missing both ways and Woods was playing his usual miss to the right on holes 8 and 9, Watson seemed to be swinging the best by the end of their abbreviated practice round.Watson, wearing a camouflage bucket hat that elicited mostly unimaginative commentary from the gallery ("Hey, Bubba, you get a free bowl of soup with that hat?"), hit a 301-yard drive on the uphill, par-5 eighth hole, and smoked another drive down the center of the ninth fairway.The LPGA's Juli Inkster was among the large gallery watching the Woods group as it walked off the eighth green and onto the ninth tee. Inkster is in town to receive the Golf Writers Association of America's Jim Murray Award, for her exemplary cooperation with the press, on Wednesday night."This is my first time here," said Inkster, a Northern Californian who has practiced at Stanford Golf Course for years and knows Woods. "I'm just getting the lay of the land."Woods missed right on the downhill, par-4 ninth hole, and a fan yelled, "Hit a mulligan!"The 14-time major winner, who once again will forgo the Par-3 Contest, laughed but declined.Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, stopped what he was doing on the practice putting green to congratulate Paul Casey on his victory in Houston last weekend. As always, Mickelson will play in the Par-3 Contest.   

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