Els sticking with caddie plan

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ORLANDO, Fla. --- Fresh off his second consecutive victory, Ernie Els headed to Augusta National for a quick practice round Tuesday and planned to take his caddie with him.

Ernie Els has been using two caddies and will bring ex-NHL player Dan Quinn to the Masters.   John Raoux/Associated Press
John Raoux/Associated Press
Ernie Els has been using two caddies and will bring ex-NHL player Dan Quinn to the Masters.

Only it's not the caddie who has been on the bag for those two wins.

Els has been using two caddies this year -- former NHL player Dan Quinn , whom he met in South Florida; and Ricci Roberts , his longtime looper from South Africa. Els plans to play 26 times this year, and each caddie gets half of the tournaments, including the majors.

Quinn was to caddie at the Masters Tournament. Even after two wins in a row with Roberts on the bag, Els said that won't change.

"I know a lot of guys said I should take Ricci, but we have made a decision," Els said. "I've spoken to Ricci and Dan about it, and they are happy and we'll stick with it. I don't think anybody can tell me anything more about Augusta than I already know. I've had local caddies take me through there. I've had everybody take me through there. So I know exactly where everything goes."

Els first used Quinn late last year, and he came within one 5-wood into the water of winning the HSBC Champions.

Quinn, a 44-year-old Canadian, spent 14 seasons in the NHL, scoring a career-high 40 goals with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1987. He took up golf when he retired and played on the Celebrity Tour.

Els met him a few years ago and started playing golf with him.

"Found out that he was a very good hockey player. I didn't quite know that," Els said. "And he played for such a long time, but he was retired for a while. Pretty easygoing guy, although he's serious about what he does."

TIGER TIMES: There has been some speculation that Masters television coverage could miss Tiger Woods if he was given early tee times over the first two rounds.

ESPN will broadcast Thursday and Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. A group that plays at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday would start at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, meaning television would capture only the last few holes. That would break a trend at Augusta National involving Woods, however.

Over the past 10 years, Woods has teed off Thursday in the early afternoon (from 12:57 p.m. to 1:52 p.m.) five times, and the other five years he has started around 10:30 a.m., giving him a late time Friday.

No matter when he plays, the Masters offers live coverage on www.masters.com from Amen Corner and on the 15th and 16th holes for every player, and it picks a featured group for live coverage starting on the 10th hole.

Augusta National also has said it would have live coverage on its Web site of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer hitting ceremonial opening tee shots, and Woods hitting his opening tee shot.

SHANGHAI CHANGE: The HSBC Champions in Shanghai, the fourth World Golf Championship on the calendar, now counts as an official PGA Tour victory -- as long as it is won by a PGA Tour member.

The PGA Tour's policy board decided last week to count as official the only WGC overseas event.

However, it will only count as an official win and offer a three-year exemption on tour if a member wins. Phil Mickelson won the HSBC Champions last year, but only 24 of the 67 players were PGA Tour members. PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said the decision is not retroactive.

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