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Posted April 07, 2011 12:04 am
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Woods practices quietly; fans fawn over Mickelson

  • Article Photos
    Woods practices quietly; fans fawn over Mickelson
    Photos description
    Woods stretches on the 11th fairway as caddie Steve Williams looks on during Wednesday's practice round at Augusta National.
  • Article Photos
    Woods practices quietly; fans fawn over Mickelson
    Photos description
    Four-time Masters winner Tiger Woods and 1998 champion Mark O'Meara play a practice round with rookie Arjun Atwal.

 

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson did plenty of talking Tuesday. They spent Wednesday walking.

After making appearances in front of a microphone earlier in the week, the two Masters champions hit the course Wednesday, playing in front of patrons at Augusta National Golf Club for the first time this week.

Woods played only the second nine in a morning grouping with friend and 1998 champion Mark O'Meara and Masters rookie Arjun Atwal, and left the course without comment. He is scheduled to tee off this morning at 10:41 with Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Australian Robert Allenby.

Mickelson's first trip around Augusta National this week was a bit more adventurous.

The reigning Masters champion was the first on the course Wednesday when he teed off at 8 a.m. with 1992 Masters winner Fred Couples and Kevin Streelman.

The threesome hit their usual tee shots on the eighth hole but had to pause on their walk up the fairway when a small deer bounded across their path.

According to accounts from patrons and gallery guards, the deer entered the golf course from the right side of the first hole and raced across the first and ninth fairways before meeting up with Mickelson at eight.

The deer darted toward the second and third fairways and eventually ended up near the fifth and sixth holes, where it left the course.

"I've been out here 25 years, and I've never seen anything like that," gallery guard Steve Churm said to a group of patrons.

Mickelson, who pushed his tee shot into the pine straw down the left side of the eighth fairway just before the deer encounter, tried to play his errant shot. A large group of patrons, however, still buzzing about the deer sighting, lingered dangerously close to Mickelson's line of sight and had to be persuaded away with a little humor.

"Seriously, sir, it's going to hurt if it hits you," Mickelson said, drawing laughs from the patrons. "Me? I'll just drop another (ball)."

Mickelson, playing his first golf since last week's win at the Houston Open, cut his practice round short after 15 holes to prepare for the Par-3 Contest. He shot 2-under 25 on the nine-hole course.

The three-time Masters champion will go off this afternoon in the second-to-last group at 1:48 with Australian Geoff Ogilvy and reigning U.S. Amateur Champion Peter Uihlein.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.