AUGUSTA, Ga. - Raymond Floyd, who has decided against one last sentimental appearance at the Masters, said he believes a major championship should and will return to Shinnecock Hills, where he is a member.

"I'm hearing rumors that they're getting back together again," Floyd, 67, who lives almost half the year in Southampton, said of Shinnecock and the U.S. Golf Association. Floyd and his family fell in love with the East End when he won the U.S. Open there in 1986. The Open does not have Shinnecock on its schedule, but Floyd believes it is on the USGA's radar.

"There's no way that golf course should be out of that rotation," he said. "You poll the top players and I don't think there's a player in the world that will put it out of their top three or four."

Floyd has an exemption at Augusta National as the 1976 Masters champion and could keep playing. He knows that other golfers have announced their farewells ahead of time and enjoyed the emotional walk to the 18th green. But he said that his memories of Augusta are all good and he wants to keep it that way. No sense battling the dramatically lengthened course.

"I toyed with it," he said of playing one last time. "But I have a good feeling that I made the right decision."

He will enjoy wearing his green jacket around the grounds and he will play in the Par 3 Contest Wednesday. "I can reach most of those greens off the tee," he said, adding that "I'm probably retired from tournament golf." So he doesn't expect to play on the Champions Tour, either.

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Floyd always will come back to Augusta for friendly rounds and for the champions dinner. He has come a long way since the day when he was an Army Reservist stationed at nearby Fort Gordon and showed up at the front gate and was told, "Sorry, sir, you can't come on these grounds."

He had to wait until 1965, when he earned his way in, shot 69 in the first round and was paired with Arnold Palmer the next day.

"I was going to show Arnold how I could play this golf course," Floyd said Tuesday. "And I shot something in the low 80s and didn't make the cut."

Notes & quotes: Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl was in the gallery. He said that if the Butler buzzer shot had gone in Monday, "it would have been the greatest ever. It would have surpassed [Christian]Laettner's." He added that St. John's made a good hire in Steve Lavin because it needed a coach with visibility.