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Volume 24 No. 160
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Billy Payne Emphasizes Accessibility In Discussing EA Sports Game, Tickets

Augusta National Chair Billy Payne yesterday "talked about accessibility at his annual 'State of the Masters' address the day before the tournament," according to Chris Gay of the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE. The Masters "already features a Junior Patron Program," and now a video game -- EA Sports' "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters" -- will try to "attract more youths to golf." Payne said of Augusta National appearing in the game, "This decision was completely based on our motivation to positively influence the growth and visibility of the sport of golf. Playing video games is a popular entertainment choice for kids today, and our involvement may, we hope, inspire greater appreciation for golf and, in turn, encourage participation." Payne added that "proceeds from the game will go to the newly formed Masters Tournament Foundation, which will support the growth of the game around the world." Payne "announced earlier in the week a new online ticketing system that would offer fans an opportunity to purchase a limited number of daily tournament tickets" beginning with next year's tournament. Yesterday he "mentioned giving more people an opportunity to walk the grounds at Augusta National," noting that tickets "became available because of attrition." Payne: "Somebody thought we would be adding just to do this, but we have, in fact, reduced modestly the number of tickets we sold the last five years." He was "unsure what the chances are of getting a ticket to the 2012 Masters" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 4/7).

In Miami, Leonard Shapiro notes Payne last year "publicly excoriated Tiger Woods," but he was "in more of a forgive-and-forget mode Tuesday when he was asked about" the video game. In prepared remarks before he took questions from the media, Payne "did not mention Woods by name." Payne later was asked specifically about Augusta National's decision to be associated with Woods, and he said, "We continue to believe Tiger is one of the greatest golfers of all time. And we hoped and prayed that his comeback would go forward in a very positive way" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/7). In N.Y., Filip Bondy notes a relationship with Woods is "no longer considered commercially poisonous" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/7).

WE'VE GOT AN APP FOR THAT: USA TODAY’s Mike Snider reviewed The Masters Golf Tournament iPad app and gave it a “4 out of 4” rating. The app costs $1.99 and “does more than merely complement the TV experience for golf fans.” Video is “a major stroke in what makes the app appealing,” as nine live HD video streams “will be available for viewing, including a featured group on the back nine, tournament action at Amen Corner and play at holes No. 15 and 16.” Video from Amen Corner begins “hours before TV broadcasts begin.” Snider writes that alone is “worth more than the price of admission itself for golf junkies.” A redesigned dashboard “lets users navigate the video streams, leader board, news updates and highlights.” Meanwhile, Snider notes the free version for iPhone offers “live video along with video highlights and a live scoreboard” (USA TODAY, 4/7). However, Payne yesterday said that there is a "limit to how much technology the club will embrace." Payne: "We already have cutting edge technology. But most of it's buried under ground" (AP, 4/6).

IS FIELD GETTING TOO LARGE? In DC, Barry Svrluga notes the Masters field this year consists of 99 golfers, and that number "has officials at Augusta National considering measures that could reduce the size in future years." Payne yesterday said, "We are really going to have to look at it this year, because there is a maximum number of competitors for which we can give the experience that we want them to have and do it in a way that's manageable. The hundred pushes that limit quite significantly." Svrluga notes the field is the "largest since 1966, and it has grown -- at least by a few competitors -- since officials allowed in anyone who won one of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup events" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/7). GOLF WORLD DAILY's Ron Sirak notes Payne "gave no indication which way the club might be leaning, but count on this: Before Augusta National re-opens in October after its annual summer hiatus, a new plan will be in place to limit field size" (GOLF WORLD DAILY, 4/7).