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Tiger Woods, The Man to Beat at The MastersAired April 6, 2000 - 1:22 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: They are well into the first round right now. In Augusta, Georgia, the 64th Masters began with, what else, tradition. Byron Nelson, who last won the Masters in 1942, teed off first, about 200 yards down the middle, followed by Sam Snead, the winner of three of those Masters green jackets.
But the big competition lies with the younger crowd, and with one young man in particular. Jim Huber of CNN/Sports Illustrated reports from Augusta National.
JIM HUBER, CNNSI CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has been since the days of Jack Nicklaus here, and maybe not even then, that somebody has been as prohibitive a favorite to win the Masters as Tiger Woods is this week. Some have made him a two-one favorite, unheard of in a game so unpredictable, but has grown to those proportions.
TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I have got a pretty good feeling that if my game holds up and I can play some shots that I will have a chance of winning.
FRED COUPLES, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Doesn't matter if you are at Augusta, to Bob Hope, or anywhere else he plays, it's Tiger and the field. So any time he plays, he is the guy to beat.
HUBER: But he is not invincible. Darren Clarke beat him in the finals of the World Match Play earlier this year; Hal Sutton, who was outspoken in his refusal to be intimidated, beat him just two weeks ago at the Players Championship.
GREG NORMAN, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: For Hal to step up to the plate and say that, I absolutely applaud him and I agree with him. No question, Tiger is a great player, no question he is the number-one player in the world. But at the same time, there is a lot of other great players out there.
DARREN CLARKE, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: It's been proven this past six weeks, you know, that he can be beaten. And again, he is up there challenging more often than anybody else, but, you know, he can be beaten now and again.
WOODS: It gives you great motivation, to lose. You can't win everything. I guess I have always heard this the most in the press, you always learn more by losing. I say yes and no to that. Because there are times when I have won, I have learned an awful lot.
HUBER: He proved in 1997, here at Augusta, that this course is made for his great length and phenomenal touch around the greens. And yet, when that record runaway victory was over, he immediately began rebuilding his swing.
WOODS: A lot has changed. My swing has changed so much it's scary. People don't really realize how many balls I've hit. I've hit a lot of golf balls to get to where my swing is at now.
HUBER: And now comes here, having finished either first or second in 10 of his last 11 tournaments.
CRAIG PARRY, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: He is not just another player. He's a freak of nature the way he plays. He plays a different game than all the rest of us. You know, we just have to out chip and putt him. We have to obviously play extremely well to catch him.
HUBER (on camera): Five years ago, when Tiger Woods first came to The Masters as a 19-year-old amateur, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus both flatly predicted that he could win as many as 10 of this before his career came to an end. Now, five years later, he appears destined to add the second along that magnificent journey.
From The Masters, in Augusta, I'm Jim Huber.
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