Notes Relaxed Atompshere on Course


SANDWICH, England -- Brad Faxon finished a British Open practice round Monday playing in a fivesome. Try getting away with that at the Masters.
'It's a little more lax over here,' Faxon said. 'But not in a bad way.'
Certainly, the island where golf was invented treats this event with a certain irreverence that's not permitted at the three majors played in the United States.
On a warm, sunny day, several fans took off their shirts to get a tan. As players came off the 18th green, they were greeted by autograph seekers who had crept inside the ropes without hearing a peep from the marshals.
Faxon began his practice round with the regulation foursome, playing with Chris DiMarco, Jay Haas and Jesper Parnevik. Along the way, Sergio Garcia horned his way in to make it a fivesome -- not to mention another 20 or so caddies, agents, coaches and other hangers-on.
No one seemed to mind.
'Everyone here appreciates golf,' Faxon said. 'They're not as picky about the other stuff, from the locker rooms to having a lot of hotel choices and amenities. You come here with a greater appreciation of the golf.'
There's a potential souvenir lurking somewhere along the 18th green.
Japan's Noboru Sugai knocked an approach shot into the tall, thick grass located to the right side of the green. He hit another ball onto the green, then spent several minutes in a futile search for his first ball.
'I never did find (it),' Sugai said. 'The grass is like this,' he added, holding his right hand about waist high. 'It is not like that on any other hole.'
Steve Flesch started getting hungry halfway through his practice round Monday.
'Is there a McDonald's around here?' he said jokingly to his caddie.
No, but they were selling ice cream and baguettes at a concession stand behind the next tee box. Since Bernhard Langer and Matthias Gronberg were taking their time in the group ahead, Flesch sent his caddie for a quick snack.
He returned with a 'bacon bap' -- grilled bacon stuffed in a baguette.
Flesch stared at the British Open staple, took two bites and tossed the rest of it into the waist-high rough.
Sandy Lyle is making his pitch to serve as European captain for the 2004 Ryder Cup.
After Sam Torrance cut off any talk of reprising the role at Oakland Hills, Lyle asked to be considered for the role.
'Your guess is as good as mine,' Lyle said. 'My name is in the pot for Ryder Cup captain. Whether I get it this year or in the next few years, I don't know. I wouldn't like to let it go too long because you tend to lose touch with the younger players.'
Lyle, 45, is a two-time major champion, winning the 1985 British Open and the '88 Masters.
'My qualifications are reasonably good,' he said. 'It's not like I haven't won tournaments before. As far as being a good captain, there's no guarantees until you're faced with the situation.'
Hal Sutton already has been named the U.S. captain.
As usual, the British Open has the most diverse field of any of the majors. All those flags flying atop the grandstands attest to that.
Nineteen countries were represented among the 128 exempt players, including India (Jyoti Randhawa).
Forty-seven American players claimed spots, while the United Kingdom had 25 players to defend its home-country advantage.
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