19 USGA Champions In This Week's British Open
Field at Turnberry headlined by nine-time USGA titlist Tiger Woods
When the 2009 British Open commences on Thursday at Turnberry in Ayshire, Scotland, a total of 19 current and past USGA champions will make a run at the oldest major championship, including World No. 1 Tiger Woods, the owner of nine USGA titles.
The 33-year-old Woods, who has three U.S. Open championships (2000, 2002 and 2008) to go along with three U.S. Juniors and three U.S. Amateurs that he won consecutively between 1991-96, is seeking a 15th major title that would leave him only three shy of the record held by Jack Nicklaus. Woods missed the British Open last year following knee surgery after his thrilling U.S. Open playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines. Woods, however, has never played Turnberry since the last British Open held on the western Scotland links course was in 1994, the year he claimed his first U.S. Amateur title.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover also has not competed at Turnberry. The 29 year old from Greenville, S.C., who posted a two-stroke win last month over Ricky Barnes, David Duval and Phil Mickelson at soggy Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, has played in three previous British Opens, finishing no better than a tie for 27th in 2007 at Carnoustie. He shared 78th last year at Royal Birkdale and missed the cut at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) in 2006. Glover has not posted a sub-70 score in 10 British Open rounds.
Also seeking a second major title in 2009 is Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open winner Angel Cabrera of Argentina. The 39-year-old who is known as “El Pato” (The Duck), owns a pair of top-10s at the British Open, a share of fourth in 1999 at Carnoustie and seventh in 2006 at Hoylake. He missed the cut last year at Royal Birkdale.
Six other past U.S. Open champions will be represented in the field. South Africans Ernie Els (1994 and ’97) and Retief Goosen (2001 and ’04) have each won a pair of U.S. Open titles, with Els claiming the British Open in a playoff at Muirfield in 2002 and losing a playoff to Todd Hamilton two years later at Royal Troon. He owns 11 top-10 finishes at the British Open and shared 24th in 1994 at Turnberry.
Goosen did not play in 1994 at Turnberry, but tied for fifth at St. Andrews in 2005, one of six top-10 finishes in the British Open.
The only other U.S. Open champion to have played previously played Turnberry is 1982 winner Tom Watson, who had one of the most memorable duals on the Ayshire Coast with Jack Nicklaus in 1977, the first year Turnberry hosted a British Open. Watson carded a pair of 65s on the weekend to best the Golden Bear by one stroke. He tied for 35th when the British Open returned to Turnberry in 1986 and tied for 11th in 1994. Watson, who turns 60 in September, has five British Open victories on five different venues, one behind the all-time record held by 1900 U.S. Open champion Harry Vardon.
Other U.S. Open champions in the field are Jim Furyk (2003), New Zealand’s Michael Campbell (2005) and Geoff Ogilvy (2006) of Australia.
Besides Woods, five past U.S. Amateur champions are represented, including Matt Kuchar (1997), Justin Leonard (1992), Billy Mayfair (1987), Mark O’Meara (1979) and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay (2006). The 52-year-old O’Meara claimed a British Open title in 1998 at Royal Birkdale, the same year he also won the Masters. O’Meara tied for 43rd in his only other British Open appearance at Turnberry in 1986. He did not play in 1994.
Leonard won in 1997 at Royal Troon and lost in a playoff in 1999 to Paul Lawrie (Jean Van de Velde also was in the playoff) at Carnoustie.
Four past U.S. Amateur Public Links champions are also represented: South Africa’s Tim Clark (1997), Mayfair (1986), Brandt Snedeker (2003) and D.J. Trahan (2000). Three past U.S. Junior Amateur winners are in the field: Three-time champion Woods, 2001 British Open champion David Duval (1989) and Hunter Mahan (1999). Duval’s win at Royal Lytham & St. Annes remains his only top-10 effort in 12 previous British Open appearances.
Besides the aforementioned players, eight past USA Walker Cup members are competing, including James Driscoll, Brian Gay, J.B. Holmes, Dustin Johnson, Anthony Kim, Davis Love III, Bryce Molder and Jeff Overton.