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Page last updated at 07:49 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 08:49 UK

Billy Payne says Tiger Woods failed to be a role model

Billy Payne

Woods disappointed all of us - Augusta chairman

Tiger Woods has received a stinging rebuke from the chairman of the Augusta National Club on the eve of his return to golf at the 74th Masters tournament.

The 34-year-old is due to tee off for the first time since news of his extra-marital affairs emerged last November.

Woods was given a warm reception from fans during practice, but club chairman Billy Payne was openly critical.

"Our hero did not live up to his expectations of the role model we saw for our children," he said.

Speaking ahead of the tournament, Payne described Woods as a "very special player" who had proved himself one of the greats of the sport, but one who had let himself down.

"As he ascended in our rankings of the world's great golfers he became an example to our kids that success is directly attributable to hard work and effort.


"But, as he now says himself, he forgot the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility.

"It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here. It is the fact that he disappointed all of us and, more importantly, our kids and our grandkids," he said.

"Is there a way forward? I hope yes, I think yes. But certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change.

"I hope he now realises that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.

"I hope he can come to understand that life's greatest rewards are reserved for those who bring joy to the lives of other people."

Payne added: "We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time with a significant difference from the past.

"This year it will not be just for him, but for all of us who believe in second chances."

Billy Payne
Payne is regarded as one of the most powerful voices in golf

A field of 96 will contest the year's first major, with Argentine Angel Cabrera defending the title he won in a play-off against Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell 12 months ago.

Woods will partner fellow American Matt Kuchar and South Korea's KJ Choi in the first two rounds and will tee off in the penultimate group at 1342 (1842 BST) on Thursday.

Asked whether security at the course had been increased because of Woods' return, Payne replied: "Of course we were very aware of and responsive to the possible issues of this week.

"So without going into detail I think we did what we would always do and that is to make adequate provision for every contingency."

Three Englishmen - Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter - go into the tournament ranked in the world's top 10, and hopes are high for a first British winner since Nick Faldo in 1996.

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see also
Masters tee times
10 Apr 10 |  Golf
Woods dominates Masters build-up
07 Apr 10 |  Golf
Photos of Tiger Woods at Augusta
04 Apr 10 |  Golf
The Masters weather forecast
08 Apr 10 |  News
Mickelson expects Woods challenge
07 Apr 10 |  Golf
Ex-Masters champion Floyd retires
06 Apr 10 |  Golf
'Hurt' Woods targets Masters win
05 Apr 10 |  Golf
England due for major win - Casey
06 Apr 10 |  Golf
Faldo thinks Woods will struggle
05 Apr 10 |  Golf
Fans happy as Woods makes return
06 Apr 10 |  Golf
Woods to make comeback at Masters
16 Mar 10 |  Golf
Repentant Woods sorry for affairs
19 Feb 10 |  Golf
Tiger Woods takes break from golf
12 Dec 09 |  Americas
Tiger Woods delays police meeting
28 Nov 09 |  Americas

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