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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 20:31 GMT
Legends angry at Augusta changes
Jack Nicklaus (left) and Arnold Palmer (right)
Nicklaus and Palmer enjoy a joke but are not amused by the changes
Golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have hit out at changes made to the Augusta National course ahead of next month's Masters.

The course has been stretched to 7,445 yards - 155 more than last year - by the addition of new tees at the first, fourth, seventh, 11th, 15th and 17th.

"I think they've ruined it from a tournament standpoint," said Nicklaus, who won the competition six times.

"I've been playing there since 1955, but now I'm not so sure," said Palmer.

Augusta is a big, big part of my life and I love it... that's why I hate to see them change it
Jack Nicklaus

This year's Masters runs from 6-9 April.

Although neither player will be competing next month, both Nicklaus and Palmer are alarmed by the changes to the course, which has grown by 520 yards since Tiger Woods won the first of his four green jackets in 1997.

"Augusta is a big, big part of my life and I love it. That's why I hate to see them change it," Nicklaus complained.

Four-times Masters winner Palmer was particularly concerned about the new-look seventh hole, which has been increased from 365 yards five years ago to 450 yards.

"It isn't going to be the seventh hole that I knew all my life and won the Masters playing," he said.

Palmer was also worried that the addition of several new trees down the right-hand side would limit the view for spectators.

World number one Woods also had mixed feelings about the changes.

"It will be a big challenge if the golf course plays fast," he told his official website.

I love the changes they've made
Ernie Els

"If the fairways are firm and they're running, then I can see it being a great test.

"But if they're soft, then I think it eliminates a lot of guys that have the skill to play but they just don't hit the ball far enough.

"You just need to make it fair for all the rest of the competitors, as well."

In contrast to Nicklaus, Palmer and Woods, Ernie Els, who enjoyed two days of practice at Augusta National last week, was hugely positive.

"I'd already read some of the press coverage and chatted with a few guys who've been there recently, so I kind of knew what to expect," the South African told his website.

"But it was great to see it for myself. I must say I love the changes they've made."


SEE ALSO
Woods ends wait with Masters win
10 Apr 05 |  Masters 2005
Augusta course extended
20 Aug 02 |  Golf


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