66 Masters tickets seized outside Augusta National

66 tickets confiscated

On the first day of Masters practice rounds, a man stood near Wendy's on Washington Road waving two fingers in the air.

Less than 20 minutes later, he was flanked by undercover Richmond County Sheriff's deputies and handed a citation as one of hundreds of people confronted for selling tickets too close to Augusta National Golf Club last week.

By the time Phil Mickelson had won the tournament Sunday, undercover deputies -- dressed in their best golf attire -- had seized 66 tickets from people outside the National, according to Sheriff's Col. Gary Powell. For comparison, 37 were seized in 2009 and 43 taken in 2008.

"Of course they warned hundreds of others who were holding up fingers and stuff like that," Powell said.

Most of the cases made by deputies were from Monday to Wednesday, during the practice rounds, Powell said. Deputies often try to deter ticket-sellers in the first days of the event to prevent trouble once the tournament starts.

State law prohibits anyone from selling tickets within 2,700 feet of a venue. That means no closer to Augusta National than Sherwood Drive to the west, Calhoun Expressway to the east and Ingleside Drive to the south. State law also prohibits anyone except a licensed ticket broker from selling tickets for more than face value.

Powell said there wasn't a concerted effort to be stricter on sellers this year. But police didn't want to let people who were caught trying to sell tickets leave with them, because they would only be back later to sell again.

"We were trying to nip it early," he said.

Besides ticket-sellers, officers dealt with one case of disorderly conduct when Eric Sweet, a Canadian, took off his shirt and went for a swim in the pond on the 16th hole. Sweet's ticket was seized and handed over to the club's security personnel, Powell said.

Last year, a Utah man jumped into a sand bunker on the 17th green and began to make "snow angels" with his arms.

Authorities also arrested a man last year for slipping marijuana onto the course by packing it inside his camera bag.

But aside from the Canadian swimmer, there were no other strange occurrences this year, Powell said.

"It was really a good week," he said.