Notes Woods Not Expecting Much Conversation

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135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- British bookmakers were up to their tricks Tuesday by offering some unusual side bets for the British Open. None was more tantalizing than defending champion Tiger Woods and three-time champion Nick Faldo playing in the same group.
 
William Hill is offering 6-to-4 odds that they will not shake hands on the first tee Thursday, and 25-to-1 odds that Woods and Faldo will come to blows at some point during the first round. Those odds started at 100-to-1.
 
Is it all overblown?
 
Woods and Faldo were never close, and have only played together twice in competition'the first round of the 1997 Masters, and the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, which Woods won handily.
 
But there has been much focus on Faldo criticizing Woods swing while working for ABC Sports at the 2005 Buick Invitational, and Woods made it clear Tuesday that he doesnt expect much social time Thursday or Friday.
 
We dont really talk much, he said. Ive only played with him two times since Ive been a pro, and there wasnt a lot of talking there, either.
 
Both are intense while playing, anyway.
 
Faldo walks quickly and keeps his head down. Woods generally is the model of concentration.
 
Woods was asked what his reaction would be if Faldo wants to chat.
 
Surprised, he said.
 
Faldo turned 49 on Tuesday, and he was asked again about his criticism of Woods at the Buick Invitational last year. Woods was leading by one shot on the final hole when he fanned a 2-iron that narrowly missed the water, and went on to make birdie. A complete fan and a miss, Faldo said.
 
I was just doing what I was paid to do, Faldo said. If I compliment him, nobody says anything, do they?
 
Faldo also said he was surprised the Royal & Ancient would put him in the same group with the defending champion, especially because they are 19 years apart in age and a generation apart in golf.
 
Im surprised he wasnt placed in a younger age group, he said.
 
MEMORIES OF ERNIE
Three players at the British Open have hoisted trophies at Royal Liverpool, even though it hasnt been part of the British Open rotation since 1967.
 
Paul Broadhurst won a Pro-Celebrities tour event in the early 90s. Mikko Ilonen of Finland won the 2000 British Amateur.
 
And then theres Ernie Els.
 
In a corner hallway of the clubhouse are framed black-and-white photos, including one from the Tillman Trophy in 1988, a junior event. Standing in the middle, tall and gangly with an awkward smile and mussed hair was Els.
 
It was a very long time ago; it was almost 20 years ago, Els said. I remember winning that tournament in a playoff, but thats about it. I cant remember the winning score or anything.
 
Still, the Big Easy has seen the photograph.
 
Theres a beautiful picture in the clubhouse if you want to see, Els said with a grin. I havent changed much.
 
IMMELMAN OUT
Trevor Immelman, coming off a win at the Cialis Western Open, wont get a chance to go for two in a row.
 
The 26-year-old South African dropped out of the British Open after learning that his wife, Carminita, would be undergoing a C-section to deliver the couples first child.
 
Immelman was trying to catch a flight home, while first alternate Andrew Buckle of Australia was trying to get to Liverpool as soon as possible with the tournament beginning Thursday.
 
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said Tuesday night that Immelman would be flying on the tours corporate jet back to Florida, which would arrive early Wednesday morning. Finchem said he understood Immelmans wife had already given birth, although he didnt know any other details.
 
Immelman has played in four British Opens, tying for 15th a year ago at St. Andrews.
 
Asked if Immelman would have to help pay for fuel, Finchem quipped, Hes already paying for it; hes missing the British Open.
 
REMEMBER ME
After Ben Curtis finished his work on the putting green Tuesday, he took his bag to the storage room at Royal Liverpool for safekeeping overnight.
 
There was only one problem. The guard stationed at the room didnt recognize the 2003 British Open champion.
 
I need to see a caddie or player badge, the guard said.
 
Curtis realized that his sunglasses, propped up on the bill of his Kansas City Chiefs cap, were blocking his badge. He lifted up his glasses and was promptly let into the room.
 
Dont they remember you won this tournament? someone asked.
 
I guess not, Curtis said with a shrug.
 
A BRIT FOR THE BRITISH
Its been seven long years since a British golfer won the British Open, but maybe its time for a breakthrough.
 
Five Brits, including perennial favorite Colin Montgomerie, are ranked among the top 50 in the world.
 
David Howell is the best of the lot at No. 10, followed by Luke Donald (11th), Montgomerie (13th), Paul Casey (29th) and Paul Broadhurst (50th).
 
Lee Westwood was the only English player in the top 100 four or five years ago, Montgomerie said. It just comes and goes. Its something thats purely coincidental. If we win one, we might four or five in a row. You never know how these things happen.
 
Paul Lawrie was the last British champion, winning a playoff after Jean Van de Veldes monumental collapse on the 72nd hole at Carnoustie. Hes the only Brit to win their namesake event in the last 13 years.
 
The Americans have done particularly well in this event, capturing nine of the last 11 titles even though they dont spend a lot of time of links-style courses back home.
 
I think we sometimes underestimate the American shot-making potential that they obviously have, Montgomerie said. They keep on winning this event and winning it well.
 
FIRE WARNING
Firefighters are standing by at the British Open and its got nothing to do with cooling off the sweltering fans.
 
Britain is in the middle of a rare heat wave, with temperatures soaring into the 90s, and a long spell of dry weather prompted officials at Royal Liverpool to post fire warnings around the course.
 
We have liaised with all the appropriate authorities and are advising spectators to take care and apply due diligence given the hot weather and the dry conditions on the course, said David Hill, director of championships for the Royal and Ancient Club.
In other words, no tossing a still-smoldering cigarette butt onto the yellowed, beaten-down grass.
 
The fire authorities are close at hand and are aware of all the measures we have put in place, Hill said.
 
Related Links:
  • Tee Times - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship