Notes Duval Tweaks Neck By Sneezing


ST. ANDREWS, Scotland --David Duval had a 12:10 p.m. starting time for his final practice round Wednesday, but he didnt join his group until the fourth fairway.
His sinuses were acting up, and he sneezed so hard and so often the day before that it tweaked his neck. Duval had to spend an hour getting therapy before he could play.
If its not one thing, its another, he said.
Duval, the 2001 British Open champion, hasnt won in three years and hasnt made a cut this year. Maybe this is just what he needs. His long list of injuries began at St. Andrews five years ago when his back hurt so much he could barely bend over to stick a tee in the ground. He still managed to get into the final group, and trailed Tiger Woods by only three shots with 11 holes to play.
Reminded of that, the light came on.
Yeah, I cant walk, he said. Watch out.
The claret jug hasnt spent much time in its homeland over the past decade.
Scotlands Paul Lawrie is the lone British winner of the British Open over the past dozen years, and even that 1999 victory should come with an asterisk: Frenchman Jean Van de Velde blew a three-stroke lead on the 72nd hole, letting Lawrie into a playoff at Carnoustie.
Maybe things will change this year. The British contingent'golfers from England, Scotland and Wales'looks as strong as its been in years, with six from its ranks holding spots in the top 65 of the latest world rankings.
And that doesnt even include No. 32 David Howell, who dropped out because of an injury, and 62nd-ranked Greg Owen, who failed to qualify.
The guys have been performing well, said Englands Nick Faldo, who won the last of his three Opens in 1992, so I think weve got plenty of players now.
Scotlands Colin Montgomerie, ranked 40th, relishes the idea of winning his first major at St. Andrews.
This would cap off a fantastic career of mine, he said. I come here full of hope, as I do every year for an Open. And this year is slightly different. I come here on quite good form, really, and I look forward to it in every way.
Monty will have to contend with Englands Luke Donald (15th), Lee Westwood (38th), Ian Poulter (44th) and Paul Casey (60th), along with Stephen Dodd (65th) of Wales.
Donald was placed in one of the prime groups, playing Thursday and Friday with Jack Nicklaus'making his final appearance in a major'and five-time Open champion Tom Watson.
Obviously, theres a little bit more expectation on players like myself, Donald said. That just comes with the territory. You dont really think about it when youre on the golf course. You just get on with it.
In addition to being part of the Open rotation, St. Andrews is a familiar stop for those on the European Tour'its used every year for the Dunhill Links.
Montgomerie, for instance, has been staying in the same hotel every year for nearly two decades.
It must be an advantage, he said. I know my way around here. I know what to do.
But the Brits are still fighting long odds. The huge contingent of top golfers from beyond their shores includes Tiger Woods, the 2000 winner and an overwhelming favorite this year.
David Levy has mixed feelings about Jack Nicklaus farewell appearance in the British Open.
As president of Turner Sports, which will televise the first two rounds of the tournament on TNT, Levy relishes the idea of his cable network getting a chance to show Nicklaus crossing the Swilcan Bridge for the final time Friday.
Of course, that would mean the Golden Bear missed the cut'which tugs at Levys personal preference.
Its a mixed bag, Levy said. It would be great to have Jack on TNT, but I would like to see him play on the weekend. Im sentimental about that.
The bulk of the weekend play will be televised by ABC, though TNT does get a couple of hours both Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Maybe Jack will make the cut, but finish up while were on the air, Levy said hopefully.
Stephen Bridle had to pay nearly $15,000 to get on the Old Course this week'and hell never even hit a shot.
The London banker made the winning bid to serve as caddie for Australian journeyman David Diaz, who put the looper duties up for auction on the Internet.
Diaz had hoped to collect about $7,500, but Bridle won with a bid twice that amount. It also helped that hes got an 8 handicap and has played at St. Andrews three times.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Bridle said.
What a dream.
The 37-year-old Diaz qualified in January for his first major. He said hell use the caddie windfall to travel to the United States along with his wife and children, hoping to land a spot on the PGA Tour.
Diaz has played 10 tournaments on the Australasian, European and Nationwide tours this year, failing to make the cut in any of them.
When the media got on to it, I thought, What have I done? Diaz said. It kind of took the focus away from the fact I was preparing for a golf tournament.
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