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Masters musings and fantasy failures

I don't envy any of the 102 golfers - Steve Elkington withdrew Monday - who are teeing it up this week at the Augusta National Golf Club.

That patch of heaven can be downright hellish if it feels like it.

And that was before the powers-that-be in green jackets added 155 more yards in the off-season.

So here's my pick: Phil Mickelson. He's longer than ever - almost a prerequisite for the Masters now - and his huge win at the BellSouth shows he's focused on his game right now.

The hiccup in that plan is, of course, Tiger Woods.

Last year, as he stood on the practice green at the Augusta National - illuminated by the spotlights following his playoff win - Woods cried as he talked about his dad. The man that taught him the game of golf wasn't at the tournament, and Earl Woods' health was failing, Tiger said. It was an emotional moment for everyone within earshot.

A year later, the senior Woods' health is worse. Tiger flew to California a few weeks ago to comfort his father. He's said his priorities have changed, keeping his Dad happy and comfortable are what matters, and he'd have no problem missing the Masters if need be.

There's one problem with that scenario: Earl Woods would want Tiger on the golf course, slamming drives and smashing records.

And that could be very bad news for the other 101 players.

SPEAKING of bad news, I've spent the last few weeks trying to console the broken-hearted. My Mirror cohort, Kristopher Wells - an admitted, committed Duke fan, has been in mourning ever since the Blue Devils got smoked by LSU.

But he shouldn't have been surprised. He could have taken one look at my fantasy picks for the college basketball tournament, and braced himself for the inevitable.

In fact, none of the four teams I picked to be in the final four made it. (And to be fair, none of the other five players in our pick-em league had a single team in the final four either.)

And my college hoops futility is just continuing a trend.

I don't know why I even play fantasy sports anymore.

Let's check my record so far this year:

  • Pro basketball - I was in first place for a few days before plummeting almost 10 spots. I'm now third from last, with little hope of climbing out of the basement. And that's with a team that includes LeBron James, Vince Carter and Jason Richardson.

  • Golf - I'm two spots from the bottom in a 16-person league. And the bottom two players haven't even played for about half the weeks.

  • Hockey - For some reason, my hockey team isn't so bad. I'm in third place, but still far out of first. And I'm sure Satan will field a hockey team before I make it to first place. (And I don't mean Miroslav Satan. He's already on my team.)

  • NASCAR - In a revelation that I'm sure will make Gene Walker proud, I'm in first place. How? I have no idea. Maybe my wife's influence is finally rubbing off on me.

    And I just fielded two fantasy baseball teams.

    Am I a glutton for punishment?

    Probably.

    Am I looking for an excuse to take me away from working on the newspaper for a few minutes during the day?

    Absolutely.



    Web posted on Wednesday, April 5, 2006













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