No one standing out with Tiger out

PAUL NEWBERRY AP National Writer Published:

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- If you're looking for someone not to pick at this year's Masters, go with Ryan Moore.

By winning the Par 3 tournament, he surely sealed his fate. After all, no one has ever taken the just-for-fun prelude Wednesday and gone on to collect a green jacket Sunday evening.

Then again, if there was ever a year to break with tradition, this might be it.

Tiger Woods is on the sidelines. A bunch of brash Augusta rookies are eager to fill his shoes. And the last two dozen majors have been divvied up among 21 winners.

Good luck making sense of it all with the Masters beginning Thursday.

"You never know," Moore said, savoring his two-stroke victory on the picturesque nine-hole course tucked away in a corner of Augusta National.

"Someone has got to break that (Par 3) curse at some point in time, so hopefully it's me. Who knows? I might go shoot 8 under or something, make a couple of hole-in-ones."

As unlikely as that sounds, pretty much everything else is up for grabs at this Masters. Recovering from back surgery, Woods is sitting out the opening major of the year for the first time since turning pro.

Even as his dominance waned in recent years, he was always the clear-cut favorite coming into Augusta, where he has won four times.

Now, as Moore said, who knows?

Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and former Masters champion Zach Johnson are the only players from the top 10 who have won anywhere in the world this year. Only one of the past seven winners on the PGA Tour was ranked in the top 75.

"I think if you're outside the top 50 in the world this week, you've got a great chance," U.S. Open champion Justin Rose said with a laugh.

Woods is out of golf until the summer, but the show goes on at a tournament that rarely fails to deliver plenty of drama.

"We miss Tiger, as does the entire golf world," Masters chairman Billy Payne said. "Nevertheless, this is the Masters. This is what we hope is the best tournament in the world, one of the greatest sporting events."

That could be Phil Mickelson, who last year won the British Open at age 42 and now has a chance to join Woods and Arnold Palmer with a fourth green jacket.

It could be Adam Scott, trying to take over as the world's No. 1 player and join Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as the only back-to-back winners.

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