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Masters Notebook

Singh's Complaint Rankles Mickelson

By Leonard Shapiro
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page D07

AUGUSTA, Ga., April 8 -- Phil Mickelson wasn't very happy with Vijay Singh Friday after Singh complained to officials on the course about Mickelson's shoes leaving spike marks on the greens. Singh played in the group just behind the defending Masters champion during the completion of the first round this morning.

"On the 13th hole, two officials approached me at two different times," Mickelson said in a statement. "They were sent by Vijay to check my spikes because he felt they were unduly damaging the greens. If that is the case, I am very apologetic and will make every effort to tap down what spike marks I may make in the future. However, I was extremely distracted and would have appreciated it if it would have been handled differently or after the round."

After being asked to check his spikes, Mickelson proceeded to bogey the following hole.

Mickelson said he was in the locker room waiting out an afternoon rain delay and "I heard Vijay talking to other players about it and I confronted him. He expressed his concerns. I expressed my disappointment with the way it was handled. I believe everything is fine now. Given the wet slippery conditions, more than a third of the field is using steel spikes. Again, I will make every effort to tap down whatever spike marks I may leave."

Players are not allowed to repair spike marks on the green to improve their line to the hole when putting, and the marks often cause a putted ball to veer off course. As a matter of courtesy, players are supposed to repair their own or other spike marks before they leave a green.

Will Nicholson, chairman of the tournament's competition committee, said Mickelson was asked by an official on the course if there was "a burr on the side of one of his spikes. He very generously said he would change them when he got in if there was a problem. There wasn't. If there were those spike marks, they were created by person or persons unknown."

Singh was not available to comment.

Big Man Off Campus

Ryan Moore, arguably the most decorated amateur golfer since Tiger Woods, predicted he might contend for a Masters championship even though he's still playing golf at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He accomplished that goal with a first-round 71 Friday morning and, at 1 under, was in a tie for ninth in his second Masters start.

The 2004 U.S. Amateur champion, Moore also won the U.S. Public Links title, the Western Amateur and the NCAA individual title last year. He played in the 2004 Masters with Arnold Palmer, who was playing in his final tournament at Augusta National. On Thursday and Friday Moore was paired with defending champion Phil Mickelson and tour veteran Stuart Appleby.

"I tried not to focus on them," Moore said. "I do try to learn from their shots, like in the wind and such, but I worry about my own game. I glance at [the leader board] every once in a while. They had me up there for a while, but they got tired of all those zeroes on the board [signifying pars], so they took me down."

Cagey Bear

Jack Nicklaus, the six-time Masters champion playing his 45th tournament this week, finished off a first round of 77 Friday morning, and needed a 35-foot birdie putt at the 16th hole to do it. Nicklaus, 65, bogeyed the first hole of his second round and likely will miss the cut for the fourth straight year.

Nicklaus was in the champion's locker room during the delay swapping stories with Tom Watson, Gary Player and Raymond Floyd. He said when there was an announcement that play might resume, "all the young guys jumped up and rushed out to the practice tee. We were watching TV and we knew we might play, or might not play, and that we sure didn't need an hour and a half to warm up."

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