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Woods Leaves Challengers in Awe

April 14, 2002

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) _ Some see the red shirt and melt before the first shot is struck.

Others last until an early barrage of birdies makes them start gambling like tourists waiting on a flight home from Las Vegas.

One even snapped at his heels like a terrier for all 18 holes of regulation, only to find out in a playoff what all the rest of Tiger Woods’ victims already knew: The longer the golf goes, the tougher he gets.

So maybe the question isn’t why Retief Goosen didn’t stand up to Woods, but whether anybody ever will on the final day of a major.

``After the front nine, I knew it was all over for me,″ said Goosen, the runner-up. ``I just tried really hard for second.″

Added Phil Mickelson, who finished third: ``The thing about Tiger is, he’s the only leader that you don’t have any hope he’ll falter. The other guys, there’s a good chance they’ll come back two or three shots. That’s why you saw a lot of guys making aggressive plays, taking a lot of bogeys and doubles because of it.″

Judging by the way the usual suspects peeled away at this Masters, the golfer who will step forward to accept the gantlet that Woods has thrown down is still young enough to be honing his stroke on a putt-putt course somewhere.

Sunday marked the seventh time in as many tries that Woods went out with at least a share of the lead in one of the game’s big four tournaments and came home in sole possession of the trophy. Even when you factor in playing partner Goosen, who is the defending U.S. Open champion, the list of players Woods has left in his dust hardly reads like a golfing version of Murderer’s Row.

But it’s not lacking in real quality, either.

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