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Polarizers and Lens Flare

Hi - I volunteered to photograph teams entered in a walk/run for charity yesterday in bright sunlight. I was happy with most of the shots, except for a couple where I got a little bit of lens flare. I couldn't see it on the LCD, but saw it when I downloaded to computer. I have a hood on my lens (the one Canon says to use), and a circular polarizer in my bag which I have never used it. Would it have helped get rid of the lens flare? The bright sun was behind the subjects, elevated (10 AM EST), and I was using direct flash after metering the sky. The exposure looks good except for the circle of unwanted light.
Thanks for any help.

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