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NOTES

Furyk Makes a Rare Visit

July 23, 2006|Chuck Culpepper | Special to The Times

HOYLAKE, England — Of all the people to see at the top of the leaderboard after Saturday, there at 11 under par stood Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and previous British Open, well, non-champion.

After finishing fourth, fourth and 10th from 1997 to 1999, Furyk had missed the cut five years in a row before this. "I haven't seen the press room at the Open" for a while, he said Saturday while in the press room.

His 66 alongside playing partner Sergio Garcia's 65 left Furyk only two shots behind leader Tiger Woods.

"I did a better job, I think, adapting to the conditions this year," he said, hitting it flat and low as he had early in his career before adapting to higher trajectory for PGA Tour play.

His Open has been so heady that Friday on No. 4, he holed a putt from the bunker that he directed along a ridge between two bunkers and onto the green. "And I could have probably put a bucket of balls down and not hit that once," he said.

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Chris DiMarco, contending for his first major title after losing twice in playoffs, sees "divine intervention," as he put it, since his mother's sudden death on July 4.

"My mom's name is Norma," DiMarco said, "and I got on the first tee, and the scorer, her name is Norma. And I've probably met about five Normas in my life. It was weird. As soon as I introduced myself, I got goose bumps, and I told my caddie, 'She's right there with us, I know she is.' "

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Even though Angel Cabrera is 36 and has excelled at the Masters and plays on the European Tour, he hasn't learned English because, as he put it through an interpreter, "I don't want to be social. I don't require the chat. I come to play golf."

Even so, he said he "gets on well" with Mark Calcavecchia, and that combination of golf girth produced some great golf Saturday, 66 for Cabrera, 68 for Calcavecchia, with the former at 11 under par, two shots behind Woods, and the latter at nine under.

In fact, Cabrera's excellence co-headlines a banner British Open for Argentina, with 25-year-old countryman Andres Romero on the leaderboard at eight under par, in an event last held at Royal Liverpool in 1967, when the winner was Roberto De Vicenzo of Argentina.

*

This time last year, Hideto Tanihara played the concurrent B.C. Open as a PGA Tour rookie and earned his best finish, 31st, on his way to 224th on the money list. On Saturday, Tanihara, 27, from Japan, shot 66 at the British Open to move into seventh place, three shots behind Woods.

*

With a Claret Jug, Woods would become the first player with back-to-back Open titles since Tom Watson in 1982-83.

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