Focus firmly on Woods, McIlroy

American and Irishman set for titanic clash at Lytham & St Annes

From American Bobby Jones paying to play his fourth round before winning in 1926 to Seve Ballesteros's ‘Car Park Champion’ shot in 1979, British Opens at Royal Lytham & St Annes have always been eventful.

The Lancashire links course is primed to host its 11th Open from July 19-22 and 14-times major winner Tiger Woods will want to add his name to a list of illustrious past Lytham champions.
Fellow American Jones, the only player to win all four majors in a year (1930), famously lifted the Claret Jug on his first visit to Lytham in 1926.

Jones forgot his competitor's ticket and was not recognised despite being second in the tournament after three rounds, but calmly paid an entrance fee before claiming the first of his three Opens.

When Lytham's turn next came around 26 years later South African Bobby Locke won the third of his four Opens and Australian five-time Open champion Peter Thomson clinched the 1958 title.

The omens get even better for Woods, seeking a fourth Open victory after wins at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005 and at Hoylake in 2006 when only once in 72 holes did he take a driver off the tee, hitting iron after iron into primary position.

Similarly prolific Open champions in South African Gary Player, who lifted the Claret Jug for a third and final time in 1974 and Spain's Ballesteros, winner at Lytham in 1979 and 1988, highlight the calibre of past champions.

Woods, without a major triumph since his 2008 US Open play-off victory, is itching to get back into the winner's circle having chalked up three PGA Tour titles in 2012.

Lytham's 206 bunkers gobble up almost everything off-line and are best avoided, something Woods managed en-route to his first Open victory at the Old Course where not once did he find sand.

“I'll bring my 5-wood and 2-iron and decide which club to carry once I get there and feel out the conditions,” Woods wrote in his pre-tournament blog.

“You can have so many different conditions. You just don't know. That's one of the unique things about the British Open and why it's my favourite major championship,” McIlroy said.

Indian faces

Meanwhile, talented Anirban Lahiri and Jeev Milkha Singh will be the two Indian faces at the Open.
While Jeev booked his berth following a brilliant play-off victory in last week’s Scottish Open, Lahiri confirmed his ticket with a fine victory in the Qualifiers few months back.

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