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Much of Tiger's first round will be live on TV

Tiger Woods (R) and Mark O'Meara walk together

Tiger Woods (R) and Mark O'Meara walk together during a practice round prior to the 2010 Masters. (April 6, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Masters officials did a small favor for ESPN and its viewers Tuesday when they gave Tiger Woods a 1:42 p.m. tee time for his return to competitive golf Thursday.

The late start means a significant chunk of Woods' first round will be seen live on television during the 4 to 7:30 p.m. window the Masters allows on the first two days of the tournament.

What about the rest of it?

The Masters will let ESPN show Woods' first tee shot live, but after that his play will be relegated to the several-minutes-long cut-ins SportsCenter will show throughout the day until 4.

John Wildhack, an ESPN executive vice president, said the plan is to replay all of Woods' "meaningful shots.'' That figures to translate to just about every shot he takes.

(Full coverage will begin at 3 on the Masters' Web site, where the tournament also shows live video of Amen Corner and the 15th and 16th holes.)

On Friday, when Woods tees off at 10:35 a.m., ESPN only will be able to show him on its cut-ins during the day then summarize his round when it begins its TV window at 4.

ESPN would have loved to go live earlier, but the Masters' TV partners do not have much say in its notoriously restrictive policies.

As their CBS counterparts did on a conference call Monday, ESPN announcers emphasized Tuesday that they are there to chronicle the entire tournament, not just Woods.

"We're here to cover the 74th Masters,'' host Mike Tirico said.

New York Sports