SANDWICH, England (AP) — Thomas Bjorn will get a chance to redeem himself at Royal St. George’s.
Three-time major champion Vijay Singh withdrew Monday from the British Open and was replaced in the field by Bjorn, who threw away a chance at winning the claret jug on this course eight years ago.
Bjorn had a two-shot lead playing the par-3 16th when he put his tee shot into the right bunker, then twice watched his shot roll back into the sand. He made double bogey, bogeyed the 17th to lose the lead and closed with a par to finish one shot behind shock winner Ben Curtis.
Singh, who got into the British Open as an alternate himself, had been dealing with back problems and had to withdraw from the AT&T National two weeks ago despite still being in contention going into the weekend.
Bjorn might forever be linked with Royal St. George’s for the way it ended. He has not played the 16th hole since that day, although Bjorn told Press Association that he has put it behind him – at least for now.
“When I get there, I won’t be thinking, ‘This is a horror hole.’ It’s a good hole,” Bjorn said. “I just tried to erase it from my memory, but it might just creep into my mind on Sunday if I am playing well.”
Bjorn has won 13 times worldwide, including earlier this year at the Qatar Masters. Since losing the Open at Royal St. George’s, he had another chance at the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol, losing by one shot when Phil Mickelson birdied the final hole.
“You’ve really got a problem if you live eight years in the past,” Bjorn told PA. “It was difficult for me when I played at Troon in 2004. I really didn’t want be there. But these are the events you want to play in and I’m delighted. At the same time, though, there’s some big names who have pulled out and you don’t want to see that.”
Scott Verplank becomes the first alternate, although he withdrew after the first round of the John Deere Classic last week with an injury and it was not immediately clear if he would fly to England. The next alternate was Ricky Barnes, followed by Heath Slocum.