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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 21:04 GMT 22:04 UK
Monday's Augusta diary
Iain Carter
Iain Carter
BBC golf correspondent at Augusta

A tournament worker walks beside a soggy fairway at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta
Soggy start at Augusta

Golf fans' best chance of walking the hallowed turf of Augusta is on the practice days, which always attract the biggest crowds during Masters week.

So Monday's thunder storms and torrential rain caused massive disappointment for thousands as the Augusta National decided to close the gates to the public.

Ticketholders will get a refund in May and will have first preference for next year, but that will seem like small consolation.

The last time the gates didn't open during Masters week was Friday 8 April 1983 and it was easy to see why the club took its decision.

Strolling around Amen Corner, standing water was clearly visible. Rae's Creek is swollen and flowing fast, and it was abundantly clear the immaculately prepared course could be easily churned up.

Those frustrated fans were left to mill around on Washington Road and opportunist supporters of Augusta Chairman Hootie Johnson were doing brisk business.

Hootie t-shirts, hats and badges were being snapped up by those who object to Martha Burk's planned protest against Augusta's male-only policy.

Many of the media were sad to note the absence of a familiar face on their arrival here.

After 34 years as the media centre security guard, the 338lb Ede Harike has not been asked to man his post.

Harike received a letter from the Masters' security firm Pinkerton with an oddly worded explanation.

Harike explained: "It said due to a revival of facial lifting I would not be invited back this year."

The cigar-toting guard, nicknamed Tiny, always guaranteed a warm welcome - just as long as your credentials were in order.

Only in America. My colleague Andrew Cotter has struck up a worrying relationship with our hire car's satellite navigation system and, in particular, its seductive tones.

We need the golf to start soon!





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