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5 things to know for the British Open

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm •  Published: July 11, 2014
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HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Even for a major championship that goes back 154 years, the British Open is capable of providing a new experience.

Attribute that to the weather.

Returning to Royal Liverpool for the first time since 2006, two differences were immediately obvious. The flags above the grandstands surrounding the 18th green were rippling in a stiff breeze off the Irish Sea. There was hardly any wind eight years ago. And thanks to a wet spring, the grass was green and lush, compared with brown and wispy the last time.

And then there's Tiger Woods.

He won in 2006 at Royal Liverpool in an emotional finish. It was the first major he won since the death of his father two months earlier, and Woods sobbed on the shoulder of his caddie and later his wife when he completed a two-shot victory. Woods now is divorced and has a different caddie.

Woods is playing his first major this year because of a back surgery and is sure to be a key figure. Here are five things to watch when play begins Thursday:

1. TIGER'S BACK

Woods had back surgery on March 31 to alleviate a pinched nerve, forcing him to miss the Masters for the first time in his career and then the U.S. Open. There was speculation he would return for the British Open, and it was a surprise when he came back three weeks ago for the Quicken Loans National at Congressional. He missed the cut, but said he was encouraged that he didn't have back pain.

As for his game? Still to be determined. His short game looked shoddy at Congressional. But at least it allowed him to shake off some of the rust from being out three months.

2. THE CLOSER

Royal Liverpool is the only links course on the current British Open rotation that ends with a par 5. The 18th hole is 551 yards and should be able to be reached in two shots, allowing for a player to have a chance at an eagle. It also has big trouble — out-of-bounds to the right — that could lead to bogey or worse. The hole is capable of big swings that could determine the championship.

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