Golfers prepare for 133rd Open Championship

The world's top golfers completed their preparations on Wednesday ahead of the 133rd Open Championship.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Royal Troon, Scotland:The world's top golfers completed their preparations on Wednesday ahead of the 133rd Open Championship, which starts at Royal Troon in Scotland on Thursday. Despite a relatively poor run of form over the past few months, American Tiger Woods is seen by many of the players as the favourite for the title despite Ernie Els of South Africa being the number one pick at the bookmakers. But, with the world number one yet to add to his list of major victories since the 2002 US Open, the chasing pack are quietly confident that one of the pretenders to Woods's throne can lift that famous claret jug on Sunday. After sunshine dominated the majority of Tuesday's practice day at Royal Troon, the players were given just a small taste of what the Scottish weather could throw at them, when wind and rain greeted the early risers on Wednesday. Fortunately, the weather improved as the day went on, and relatively benign conditions held sway as competitors wrapped up their preparations, ahead of the opening round of the 133rd Open Championship on Thursday. Those who have studied the form guide have pointed to the now customary array of big names who are expected to be in contention on Sunday. They include world number one Tiger Woods, the South African pair of Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, US Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Fiji's Vijay Singh. But there are also those players who seem to be hitting form at just the right time. They include New Zealand's Michael Campbell, who has a good record at the Open, and who finished second at Loch Lomond last week. The European challenge is usually strong at the Open, but the continent hasn't been able to celebrate an Open victory since Paul Lawrie won at Carnoustie in 1999. 2004, though, could be the year, with a host of Spaniards, Swedes and Frenchmen on hand to compliment the usual array of British golfers hoping to win their "home" Open and major. The challenge to become the 133rd Open champion will come from a number of fronts - American, Antipodean, Argentinian, European and South African to name but a few - and whoever can conquer the weather conditions in the process, will have thoroughly deserved it. (AP)

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