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Published: 4/8/2006

Coody plays final round

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Thirty-five years after winning the Masters, and playing here for the 40th time, Charles Coody called it quits yesterday at Augusta National Golf Club.

He certainly went out in style.

One day after shooting an opening-round 89, the 68-year-old Coody made a run at even par yesterday before settling for a 2-over 74, a 15-stroke improvement.

"This is my last Masters, so it feels good to play well," the Texan said. "It's just time to quit. There are about eight holes out there that are par 5s for me."

He found the par 3s to his liking. Tees were up on the fourth hole, which can be stretched to 240 yards, and Coody hit a fairway wood to within one foot for a kick-in birdie. He got another on No. 12 at the heart of Amen Corner, hitting a 6-iron to 15 feet and making the putt.

After a birdie at No. 15, Coody was 1-under for his round, but "made a couple bad swings on 16 and 17 [where his drive hit a tree and led to a double-bogey]. Until then I thought I might be lucky enough to shoot par."

He last did that during the second round in 2001.

Coody's son Kyle, who was 6 years old when his father won the Masters, served as his caddie yesterday.

"It was a memorable day for both of us," Kyle said. "This place means a lot to my family."

The '71 Masters was the last of three PGA Tour wins for Coody.

WINDY CITY: It may change with wet weather forecast for this morning and, perhaps, throughout the day, but Phil Mickelson said the last time Augusta National was this tough - dry, windy and tricky - was when Vijay Singh won with a 10-under total in 2000.

"That's the last time I remember it being so difficult," the '04 Masters champion said.

Mickelson was 3-under yesterday before having the wind play havoc with his approach shot to No. 11.

"I left some shots out there, mostly on the greens," said Mickelson, who finished 2-under. "I hit a good shot on [No.] 11, a solid shot, but I misplayed the wind and it drifted and went in the water."

OPEN SESAME: Dry, windy weather conditions during the first two rounds had players likening the Masters to a U.S. Open test, which was fine with two-time Open champion Ernie Els.

"I've tried to play the way you play in Opens, which is to get the ball in play, not be too overly aggressive, and play away from the flags," said Els, who is at 2-under after 36 holes. "But there's a fine line. You need to be careful, but you can't play defensive."

GREENS GIANT: Ben Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion and now 54 years old, kept it together again yesterday with an even-par 72 that left him 1-under for the tournament.

Els had no trouble figuring out how Crenshaw is getting it done.

"There's no one better on the greens here than Ben, Tiger [Woods] and Phil [Mickelson]," Els said. "They really putt these greens the best. And I think Ben still may be even better than Tiger on the greens."

Still, said Crenshaw, rain forecast for last night and this morning would not be in his favor.

"I think a super-long course would almost be a little too much for me," said Crenshaw.

STILL LEARNING: Billy Mayfair might tell you that Mickelson is king of the Augusta greens. Mayfair has gone 71-72 for a 1-under total at the midway point of the Masters and credits a practice round with Mickelson on Tuesday.

"He told me how some of the greens broke, which helped me a lot," said Mayfair, who is competing in his 10th Masters. "He showed me some tricks around the greens that I'd never realized before."



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