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Masters notebook

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

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PATIENCE IS KEY: Lee Westwood knows it isn't always best to go for the flags at Augusta National.

Westwood, the world's No. 2-ranked player, said he has come to understand it takes patience to play the course correctly. It's about discipline and sometimes playing away from the flag and being happy with a 25- or 30-foot putt up the hill.

"You learn it fairly quickly, but if you are stupid sometimes like me, sometimes it wakes awhile to sink in," said Westwood, drawing laughter from the media.

Before finishing second in the 2010 Masters Tournament, Westwood's best previous finish came in 1999, when he tied for sixth place.

The Englishman, who had a scare Sunday night when his plane from Houston had to land after there was a fire, will be gunning for his first major title.

Westwood, 37, got some advice during the 2010 Masters from champion Phil Mickelson , who himself had to wait some time before his first major victory.

"Last year, I sat in the scoring cabin and he just said, 'Just keep doing what you're doing and it will happen for you sooner or later,' " Westwood said.

ROUTINE CHANGE: Martin Kaymer , the reigning PGA champion, changed his preparation entering this year's Masters.

A four-time winner in 2010, Kaymer took two weeks off before this year's Masters. In the past, he would play in events leading up to golf's first major. He spent one week in Scottsdale, Ariz. Last week he practiced at nearby Sage Valley Golf Club.

Kaymer enters this year's Masters as the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

"It's a nice feeling," he said. "My expectations, they were high, but I was not expecting myself to be No. 1 by the Masters in 2011.

"It's not important, but it's obviously a great feeling."

BUSY DAYS: It hasn't taken too much time for the days to blur together for Peter Uihlein .

The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion, Uihlein, a junior at Oklahoma State, is preparing for his first Masters.

Since arriving in Augusta on Friday night, Uihlein said, he has played rounds with David Chung, Rickie Fowler, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Nathan Smith, Ryan Palmer, Bo Van Pelt and Bubba Watson while also seeing the Cowboys win a tournament at Forest Hills Golf Club.

As the U.S. Amateur champion, Uihlein gets to play with Mickelson, the defending Masters champion, on Thursday and Friday.

"He's been playing great the last few years out here," Uihlein said. "He obviously knows the golf course. I'm obviously looking forward to playing with him on Thursday and Friday, try to get a practice round with him (on Wednesday morning) and try and pick his brain a bit."

Uihlein is also being helped by his caddie, Alan Bratton , the Oklahoma State men's and women's associate head golf coach.

"When Peter won the Am he asked me to caddie for him," Bratton said. "That was an awesome week to watch him step up on that kind of stage. It will be cool watching him in this environment, too."

DRYING UP: Monday night's storm led to some muddy spots and debris around the course, but it didn't take long for the course to return to great condition.

The sun poked through before 10 a.m., and players such as Rory Sabbatini were impressed with the state of the course as the grounds dried and workers went around and picked up fallen branches, leaves, pine cones and pine needles. The course opened at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.

"All things considered, it's still in good condition," Sabbatini said. "I don't think it's going to change conditions much once Thursday rolls around. Obviously, the wind and the dry humidity is going to kind of evaporate some of the moisture out of the ground pretty quickly. But I don't foresee it causing a problem whatsoever."

PAR-3 JINX: No winner of the Par-3 Contest, which dates back to 1960, has ever gone on to win the green jacket in the same year, so today's winner will be playing against history.

Louis Oosthuizen kept the streak intact in 2010 when he followed his Par-3 win by missing the cut.

Oosthuizen will be back out on the 1,060-yard, nine-hole course today, when he will attempt to be the first to win the competition in back-to-back years since Padraig Harrington won it in 2003 and 2004. Harrington tied with David Toms in his first victory.

"I don't like to believe in things like that, but it happens all the time," Oosthuizen said about a jinx. "I'm definitely playing again. My little girl is going to walk with me, so I'll probably try and get her to kick the ball or something so that my score doesn't count."

Chris Gay and Lance Lahnert contributed to this article.

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