Gates crowded; roads, too, but no unexpected delays around Augusta National

Golf fans streamed through the gates of the Augusta National Golf Club this morning, the first day of practice rounds for the Masters Tournament.


The day had more anticipation than most Masters Mondays with the expected return of Tiger Woods to competition.

While Woods remained the focus of national media, most of this morning's fans said they were ready for golf.

"I didn't think I'd ever be able to go," said Allen Snyder, a first-timer from Raleigh, N.C., "so it's a surprise this year."

Snyder had come courtesy of his friend Bob West, of Hartsville, S.C., a regular at the tournament.

"I come every year," said West, who described the course as "unbelieveable. TV can't do it justice."

Jeff Fournier, of Monroe, Ga., agreed.

Sitting up his seats with family around the 18th green this morning, he called the course unique. He said he had lived in Monterey, Calif., and had been to Pebble Beach, but the Augusta course was "unbelieveable," particularly on a Monday morning when things opened up.

Jim Toner, of Memphis, had similar comments. Standing in front of the large scoreboard to the left of the first hole, he said, "Monday at 8 a.m. the course is pristine."

By Sunday, the tournament's drama may build, but the grass has been worn away by the thousands of fan footsteps, but on Monday every thing is new.

Jim and Judy Gordon of Ottawa, Canada were ready. They said they gave up a week's vacation in Florida for one day at Augusta National. The tickets were a Christmas gift from their daughter.

"We're definitely golf fans," they said.



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