Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tom Watson and Tiger Woods kept apart in Open curtain-raiser

Tiger Woods and Tom Watson were spared what might have been an awkward link-up by the R&A when the teams were announced yesterday for next Wednesday's Open Champions Challenge on the eve of the 150th Anniversary Open at St Andrews.
Five-time champion Watson said he believed Woods, winner of the last two Opens on the Old Course, had to "show some humility" when he returned to the game earlier this season after the world No. 1 took an indefinite break to tackle the issues in his private life which surfaced at the end of last year.
Watson also called on Woods to refine his on-course behaviour, saying: "I feel that he has not carried the same stature as other great players like Jack (Nicklaus], Arnold (Palmer], Byron Nelson, the Hogans, in the sense that there was language and club throwing on the golf course. I think he needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that other people before him have shown."
Woods' form since returning to action this year has been patchy, and following a lowly finish at the AT and T National in Pennsylvania at the weekend his golf showed little improvement yesterday when he shot a seven-over-par 79 in the first round of the J P McManus Invitational Pro-Am at Adare, near Limerick.
However, few of the 40,000-strong crowd which swarmed to the course to see Woods appeared to share Watson's sentiments as they accorded him a rapturous reception. Woods is planning to jet back to America tonight before returning to St Andrews next week.Whether the R and A took Watson's remarks on board at any stage is debatable, but the veteran and Woods will not be joining forces in one of the seven teams that will take part in a four-hole challenge similar to that held during the Millennium Open on the Old Course.
Watson, who came agonisingly close to equalling Harry Vardon's record of six Open Championship wins at Turnberry last year, is in a three-ball with Tom Weiskopf, the champion at Troon in 1973, and Ernie Els, who won at Muirfield eight years ago. Each of the teams has been appointed a captain, with that honour being afforded to the most senior player in the group, which is Weiskopf in the case of his team.
Due to the fact he's unable to play at the moment on medical grounds, four-time champion Peter Thomson will be a non-playing captain of Woods' group, which also includes Sir Nick Faldo, the winner at St Andrews in 1990, and Mark Calcavecchia, who claimed the Claret Jug at Troon in 1989. Between them the players in that group have 12 Open Championships to their name.
Sandy Lyle is in a group with Roberto de Vicenzo, Ben Curtis and Tom Lehman, while Paul Lawrie lines up with a fellow Carnoustie champion in Padraig Harrington, as well as Lee Trevino and Tony Jacklin.



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