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“It doesn’t seem like the same names come to the top there,” Stewart Cink said. “And since you mentioned Tiger, maybe the opposite applies. It’s not `horses for courses.’ There are some people who just dread playing here.”

Unlike other courses _ particularly those used at the four majors _ a phrase seldom heard at Sawgrass is, “It really fits my eye.” Far more common are words like “awkward” and “uncomfortable.”

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“You go through the history of winners we’ve had,” Rod Pampling said. “Big hitters, short hitters … everyone has a chance. It’s one of the very few tournaments open to anyone. If you’re on, you can say it’s your kind of course. But if you’re not on, my God. I found that out. I was just a touch off with my driver and I was thinking, `How am I going to make par?’ Never mind birdie. That’s the thing about this golf course.

“Every shot, you’ve got to play well,” he said. “When you’re on and hitting those shots, you play well.”

Kuchar was on. The best player won last week. There should be no disputing that.

It’s the lack of the usual suspects atop the leaderboard that is confounding.

Mickelson has shown up at Augusta National with little game and even less confidence and the light comes on. He loves the Masters because he doesn’t have to play perfect to score. That doesn’t work at Sawgrass. So when someone brought up local knowledge, it was all Mickelson could do to keep from laughing.

“I’m not sure how much local knowledge is required here,” he said. “You just have to execute. There’s really not a way to miss your way around this course, like Augusta, where you can miss in the right spots and still salvage pars. Here, if you miss shots, even if you’re in the right spot, you’re most likely not going to salvage par.”

Ogilvy grew up playing courses in Melbourne where there was a good place to miss the green to secure par, or a bad side to miss the green and pay for it. He contends that even at Augusta, it’s relatively easy to make par on every hole by playing it safe.

Augusta is no Sawgrass, with or without an island.

“There’s no way to play safe and guarantee no damage,” Ogilvy said.

Still, nothing intrigued him quite like Woods‘ record at Sawgrass, how a guy could play so consistently well and suddenly become unpredictable.

“It’s a tournament Tiger played 15 times and only contended twice. There’s something odd there,” Ogilvy said. “Maybe that’s the genius of the golf course. Or maybe that’s the flaw.”