Notes Love takes exception to American whining

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Open ChampionshipSOUTHPORT, England -- Kenny Perry was the butt of jokes for playing in Milwaukee instead of a major championship, even though he had already wrapped up a spot on the Ryder Cup team.
 
Its not like he was the first American to skip the British Open.
 
Curtis Strange played only 13 times in his career, missing five starts in the 1980s when he was at the peak of his game. Scott Hoch only played the British Open five times, and never bothered to learn the names of the courses.
 
They are exceptions.
 
Brad Faxon once tried to qualify, then flew home and defended his title when he didnt make it. Bob Estes flew from Texas to St. Andrews as an alternate and never got in.
 
Davis Love III, who considers this one of his favorite tournaments, doesnt hold grudges against those who are eligible and dont come.
 
Kenny is a great guy. Theres nothing bad in his heart, Love said. He wasnt complaining. He just doesnt want to play.
 
What bothers Love more are the players that do fly across the Atlantic and start complaining. He didnt mention names, but Pat Perez would have been a candidate for saying the rain and wind in the first round didnt feel like golf.
 
Just dont come, Love said. If youre going to have a bad attitude on Thursday before you tee off because its raining, then dont come, because youre just wasting your time. Its going to be bad, eventually, one way or another.
 
Love believes the Americans get a bad reputation when one or two players dont come to the British Open -- remember Woody Austin last year, who had played eight of nine weeks? -- but he got a different perspective while qualifying in Detroit earlier this month.
 
There were a lot of Tour players there, and there were a lot of guys grinding it out, trying to make it, he said. There are guys who are desperate to play.
 
His advice is to expect the worse, which is what Health Slocum did when he came over as first alternate and didnt have a spot in the field until Thursday morning. Slocum said wind, cold and rain were part of his British Open memories when he watched on TV as a kid.
 
Youre not going to have an easy round of golf every day, Love said. If its warm, its just as hard in another way. Its firm and fast and you get bad bounces, and theres a lot of luck involved. Then it gets like this, and its incredibly tough to control your ball and you just have to have the patience, no matter which way it goes. Its very rarely nice and comfortable.
 
But worth it? It is for more Americans than people realize.
 
Even after he withdrew after nine holes, Rich Beem said he would continue to attempt qualifying if he wasnt exempt.
 
Its the greatest golf known to man, he said.
 
TIGER WHO?
 
Tiger Woods missing his first major as a pro didnt keep the fans away from Royal Birkdale. More than 200,000 attended the British Open, which Royal & Ancient officials said was among the top six in history.
 
Three of the largest crowds were at St. Andrews, and two others that were larger than last week were at Royal Liverpool in 2006 and Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
 
The Birkdale attendance was particularly impressive because there was a steady rain and 30 mph wind for most of the first round, which officials said probably kept as many as 5,000 people at home that day.
 
When you think of the weather, people talking about a possible economic recession, Tiger Woods not here I think it was a wonderful crowd, R&A chief Peter Dawson said.
 
Perhaps a better measure than attendance was the sale of 280,000 cups of coffee and 30,000 servings of fish and chips.
 
STEADY KARLSSON
 
Robert Karlsson is fourth in the European standings for the Ryder Cup, and its not difficult to see why. The Swede is the only player to finish in the top 10 at all three majors this year.
 
Karlsson tied for eighth in the Masters, closed with an even-par 71 and tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, then had a 69 -- one of only six rounds under par on the last day at Royal Birkdale -- to tie for seventh at the British Open.
 
Thats nearly one-third of his points from three tournaments.
 
LOADED QUESTION
 
The LPGA Tour had a fan poll on its Web site during the second round of the State Farm Classic, asking for predictions on who would win the tournament.
 
Michelle Wie, who is not an LPGA member, was among the names atop the leaderboard, but she was not part of the poll. The choices were LPGA champion Yani Tseng, Angela Park, Angela Stanford, Sherri Steinhauer, Jee Young Lee and Other.
 
Tseng received 12 percent of the votes.
 
Other was the leader at 63 percent.
 
VIEW FROM ABOVE
 
Fans were startled Friday morning at Royal Birkdale when a large corporate jet flew over the golf course early in the second round, banked sharply and continued south down the coast.
 
It was a Gulfstream V bringing a special guest to the British Open -- three-time champion Jack Nicklaus.
 
And the Golden Bear wasnt quite sure where he was.
 
Looking out from his window, Nicklaus told his assistants, Wow, what a beautiful piece of property. Thats when they informed him that links land was Royal Birkdale.
 
Nicklaus best finish on this links was a tie for second -- six shots behind Johnny Miller -- in 1976.
 
HARRINGTON DIVOTS
 
Padraig Harrington opened with a 74, the highest start by a British Open champion since Greg Norman had the same score at Turnberry in 1986. He is the seventh player to win consecutive British Opens since World War II. All but two of them recorded one of those victories at Royal Birkdale. The exceptions were Tiger Woods (St. Andrews, Royal Liverpool) and Bobby Locke (Royal St. Georges, Royal Troon). Only two players from Dublin have won the British Open -- Harrington and Ben Hogan, who was born in Dublin, Texas.
 
DIVOTS
 
Woody Austin received more Ryder Cup points from his tie for 39th at the British Open than Kenny Perry received from his tie for sixth in the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. Arron Oberholser was to have surgery Tuesday on his left hand to remove a bone spur and was expected to miss two months.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
 
Americans have finished among the top three in 32 of the 35 majors this decade. The exceptions are the British Open in 2002, 2007 and 2008.
 
FINAL WORD
 
It wasnt the disaster it was built up to be. -- R&A chief executive Peter Dawson on criticism of the 17th green at Royal Birkdale, where Padraig Harrington hit 5-wood to 4 feet for eagle that clinched victory in the British Open.
 
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