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McIlroy chases golf history at 'outlier' Augusta National

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AFP, Augusta :

Rory McIlroy renews his quest to complete a career Grand Slam when the 83rd Masters tees off in the stately confines of Augusta National here Thursday.
The atmosphere might not rival the serene, almost spiritual ambience that McIlroy experienced during a non-tournament week at the fabled course, but it certainly harks back to a more dignified - and less digitized - age in sports and life.
"It's pure golf," says four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods - the player most bedeviled by boisterous fans who at most venues these days are so busy snapping selfies they barely have time to watch him hit a shot.
Not only are Augusta's "patrons" encouraged, if not required, to act with decorum outside the ropes, the throng of media that follows him is not allowed inside.
"Some of the events, like the Open Championship - because the golf courses are so old that there's not a lot of room - there's sometimes 75 to 100 people inside the ropes following us," Woods said. "That gets a little distracting and it gets a little difficult at times.
"Here, it's just us playing and you see some of the greatest golf you've ever seen here. I think that's one of the reasons why."
Mobile phones are prohibited, with those breaking the rule escorted off the grounds. Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley knows the policy makes the club "an outlier" but he thinks patrons appreciate it. "It's refreshing," McIlroy said of seeing fans who "don't constantly have their face in the device."
There's no running, no sprawled in the sun sleeping, and no fan photography at the Masters, no "You da man" bombast and - if the marshalls have their way - no applauding of a less popular player's poor shot.

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