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Big 3 Take Stage at Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Gary Player joined forces with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in the role of honorary starter this morning, getting the Masters off to a memorable start. Phil Mickelson was among those looking on as golf's former Big 3 all hit tee shots that found the fairway.

"It was a great thrill, having had this wonderful relationship, great friendship with Arnold and Jack for a long, long time and having traveled extensively around the world together," Player said. "We've even cried together, and we've laughed together, and we've had good times."

In the interview room afterward, the trio kidded about how Nicklaus and Player talked of retiring at 35.

"We were going to be 35 and we weren't going to pay anymore," Nicklaus said. "But you (Palmer) said, 'No, that's not me. I'm going to keep playing.'"

"That's right," Palmer said. "You guys kept saying you were going to quit at 35. I said, [B.S.]. No more thoughts of quitting at 35 than . . .

Nicklaus: "82?"

Palmer: "Hey, if I could do it, I would be doing it right now."

The tournament field was greeted by sunny skies that belied the wet grounds that have Augusta National playing longer than usual. Red scores were few on the early leader board, although Padraig Harrington did provide the tournament's first eagle on the par-5 second hole.

-- Bob DiCesare

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