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SPORTS EXTRA / SPECIAL SECTION: British Open | NOTES

Stewart Likes Old-School Training

July 15, 1999|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland — Zane Scotland of England, a 16-year-old amateur, was one of 49 players who qualified for the British Open with rounds of 69-71 at Downfield.

Scotland is the youngest qualifier in British Open history.

"That's a tremendous accomplishment," Tiger Woods said. "To do it under some of the stiffest competition in qualifying is really something."

Payne Stewart had a somewhat different reaction.

"I hope he doesn't turn pro if he finishes third," said Stewart, referring to Justin Rose, who became a pro at 17 after a third-place finish last year at Royal Birkdale and who has made one cut since.

"You know, I would tell Justin that," Stewart said, "that I wished he had gone over and played university golf in the States.

"At 17 years old, I don't think that you're mature enough to come out here and compete with the best players in the world. I think maturity is something that comes over time. I mean, look at me: I'm 42 and I'm just now maturing."

Rose said he made no mistake turning pro.

"I don't regret anything," he said. "I can take anything that anybody throws at me.

"Timing didn't quite happen, momentum didn't quite get going, but never regret it. Turning professional, I'd like to lay this ghost to rest. I was turning pro after the British Open, no matter what."

*

The latest odds on who will win the British Open favor Woods at 5-1, followed by David Duval at 12-1, Colin Montgomerie at 14-1, Vijay Singh at 18-1, Ernie Els at 20-1 and Davis Love III, Jesper Parnevik, Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia and Stewart at 25-1.

*

Looking for a dark horse? Lee Janzen says don't throw a saddle on him.

"I'd say on a one-to-10 scale, my game is about a negative four right now," Janzen said.

*

Woods is paired for the first two rounds with Ian Woosnam of Wales and Craig Parry of Australia. Duval's pairing is with Frank Nobilo of New Zealand and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark.

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Look, up in the sky. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a Tiger.

Yes, it could be Woods, all right, because he is traveling by helicopter across the Firth of Tay to the course from where he is staying in St. Andrews.

If bad weather grounds Woods' helicopter, he has two other options: Hovercraft across the water and that old-fashioned method, the automobile.

*

Under the category of Briefest Answers, we give you Lee Westwood.

Question: Did you learn anything from last year's British Open?

Westwood: "Yeah."

What did you learn?

Westwood: "I'm not telling you."

*

Comparing the beginning of Garcia's professional career to that of Woods, it should be noted that Woods won the fifth tournament he played and Garcia won in his sixth tournament.

In seven weeks, Garcia, 19, has moved from No. 355 in the world rankings to No. 58. If he wins this week, Garcia would move to No. 23.

Woods smiled when asked about a rivalry with Garcia.

"There is a rivalry between Sergio and I now? Not just David [Duval]? It's always something, isn't it? You guys got to write about something. OK, Sergio and I. It's nice to see him get off to a good, positive start.

"As far as a rivalry, I don't think there is one yet. Hopefully there will be."

*

Large crowds followed Garcia and Seve Ballesteros during a practice pairing Wednesday and youngsters thrust programs and hats at the young Spaniard to sign as he walked between holes.

Enough of them called the teenage sensation "Mr. Garcia" to prompt Garcia to address the media on the subject of his name afterward.

"If you don't mind, I like you to call me Sergio in the media if it is possible, because I feel much better than Garcia," he said. "You know, it is how I like all the people to call me."

That doesn't mean, Garcia tried to clarify later, that he wants to be known only by one name, like some Brazilian soccer star.

"I like to be recognized as Sergio or Sergio Garcia, but not as Garcia, just," he said.

*

Another Spaniard, Jose Maria Olazabal, who had to pull out of the U.S. Open after he punched a wall when he was angry and broke a bone in his hand, said he is in pretty good shape.

"It still hurts a little bit, but it will take at least a couple of weeks, two to three weeks, to be truly free of pain. I mean, it shouldn't get any worse anyway."

Olazabal, who will play with his hand bandaged, isn't overly optimistic.

"It's just nice to be here, even though I know that my chances aren't all that great," he said.

*

Facing a course he described as a "brute," two-time British Open champion Greg Norman warns that a winning score of something like 20 over par wouldn't be a great ad for golf.

"I just hope it doesn't backfire," Norman said of the decisions to grow the rough at Carnoustie while shrinking the fairways. "Pinehurst to me was the best U.S. Open I had ever played in, the way they set the golf course up. They did it to exactly how it was meant to be designed and look what happened--an even par won it [actually one under]. It was a perfect job.

"We're over here at the British Open, you get a lot more adverse weather conditions. But set the course up the way it is supposed to be. If the weather eases up they might get away with it," Norman said.

*

Bill Glasson on Wednesday became the ninth American to withdraw from the field, citing an elbow injury.

Glasson, 39, who has had 13 operations since he joined the tour in 1984, didn't travel to Scotland and said he is taking a five-week break from the game.

He will be replaced in the 156-man field by England's Scott Watson, who won a five-man playoff to be first reserve.

Glasson joins Jack Nicklaus, John Daly, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Fred Couples, Steve Jones, Brad Faxon and Scott Hoch as Americans to withdraw.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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