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Experience pays off in Round 1 at Royal St. George's

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SANDWICH, England – Little wonder that on ancient links, experience, not power or youth, can be the great equalizer. In 2008, a 53-year-old Greg Norman stirred visions of an ageless victory at Royal Birkdale followed a year later by 59-year-old Tom Watson’s near miss at Turnberry.

It’s almost a rite of summer at the Open Championship that a player who seems past his “sell by” date emerges from the pack to steal headlines and the imagination. On Thursday at Royal St. George’s it was Mark Calcavecchia, 51, and Miguel A. Jimenez, 47, who made leaderboard cameos.

“Norman and Watson probably should have won this tournament back-to-back,” said Calcavecchia, who finished with a 1-under 69, three shots behind Jimenez. “I guess I’m young compared to that. I’d like to think I’ve still got a shot every year I come over here.”

It’s little wonder the reluctant seniors do well at the Open Championship given the unique challenges of links golf and the traditionally lengthy learning curve.

“You're going to get some odd bounces here, but guys that have been around the block are used to it,” said 2004 champion Todd Hamilton, 45. “It’s just as easy to make two or three birdies right after that. The older guys just kind of accept that quicker and move on.”