who will play with tiger?

ORLANDO - Dean Wilson was in his hotel room getting ready to practice on a Tuesday afternoon seven years ago when a PGA Tour official called to let him know the pairings were about to be released.

ORLANDO - Dean Wilson was in his hotel room getting ready to practice on a Tuesday afternoon seven years ago when a PGA Tour official called to let him know the pairings were about to be released.

Wilson didn't understand why he was being contacted until he heard the names. One was a fellow rookie, Aaron Barber. The other was a sponsor's exemption, Annika Sorenstam.

"Someone from the tour contacted me and said, 'The draw is coming out and you're paired with Annika. We want you to talk to the media when the tee times come out, rather than it coming out when you're on the course'," Wilson said last week.

"I knew it was going to be a big deal. I didn't know it was going to be a giant deal."

Imagine how massive the Masters will be.

The two situations are nothing alike. Colonial was a celebration of Sorenstam becoming the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour. The Masters could be a circus when Tiger Woods returns to golf.

Even so, not since Colonial in 2003 has there been so much interest in tee times.

Wilson's name essentially came out of a hat, thrown in with other rookies and players with low status. Augusta National has no policy with its pairings, other than the defending champion traditionally plays with the US Amateur champion.

How will they decide who plays with Woods?

"With great care," said Colin Montgomerie, who is not eligible for the Masters this year. "You'd almost have to ask for volunteers. There are a number of players who will be looking at the draw sheet and be delighted if they are not playing with Tiger."

So who gets him? Perhaps the better question is who wants him? "I would say it would be a tough pairing," said 49-year-old Kenny Perry, who lost in a playoff last year.

"I'm old enough to maybe handle that. Maybe you need some hillbilly like me to do that.

"But it will be different because I'm sure the players will be focused on Augusta, yet focused on what's going on with him and paying attention to what he's doing out there."

Since his first Masters as a pro in 1997, Woods has played with only two American pros - Stewart Cink in 2000 and 2009, and Tim Herron in 1999.

In eight of his 13 trips to Augusta, Woods has played with an amateur for the first two rounds.

"I'd be okay with it," Cink said. "I've known him for a long time."

It's unclear whether the men in green jackets have asked for a show of hands. The thinking is they will put Woods with two players not expected to contend, such as a former Masters champion. Where's Doug Ford when you really need him?

Mark O'Meara comes to mind. Few players have been closer to Woods since he first turned pro, though the relationship is not as strong as it once was.

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. - Sapa-AP

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