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The Open: Tiger Woods back in the game with history on his side

By Andy Farrell

Tiger Woods put a peg in the ground just twice yesterday and that was it, holes one and two and he was off, serious practice done.

Perhaps he knows his Hoylake history; that Royal Liverpool deals largely in blue-chip winners, wiping out a swathe of contenders at the outset. This tournament has thrown up its share of random champions over the years – step forward Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton, Stewart Cink and Mark Calcavecchia – but not at this place.

Woods, just back from a long injury lay-off, won his third Open here in 2006, one of three greats to have brought up their Open hat-trick on the Wirral alongside Bobby Jones and Peter Thompson.

In the case of Jones, he was busy making history in 1930, his victory notching the second leg of the fabled grand slam.

Jones followed Walter Hagen, champion here in 1924, on to the Hoylake victory board, who in turn came after JH Taylor, another legend of the game, in 1913.

A further quirk of Hoylake is the number of international winners that have taken the Claret Jug here – seven, more than at any other Open venue.

Despite his inactivity Woods retains a prominent spot in the betting.

He has been here since Saturday and, after replacing the flag at the second hole, completed his preparations with some chipping and putting by the clubhouse.

With the forecast looking more settled than earlier predictions suggested, the tea leaves point to another player of pedigree and form taking control.

Thus Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer are attracting the greater share of the betting dollars.

Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson said: "We remember some pretty horrendous scenes. I think it was at Birkdale when the tents blew down all those years ago.

"What we want is a good links. Breezy, sunny conditions is what we'd like to see. We know we won't get that every day, but we hope we'd get some of it."

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