TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) — In these parts of the world, the oldest major is known simply as “The Open Championship.” It’s not unusual for Americans to refer to it as the British Open, although one will rarely hear that from British and European players, or any players from South Africa, Australia and other parts of the world.
That’s why it was alarming to hear Ian Poulter refer to it as the “British Open” last week.
Not just once, either. He said it five times.
Poulter is from England, although he also is a U.S. tour member, has played mostly on the PGA Tour, and last year skipped the final Ryder Cup qualifying event in Germany so he could concentrate on the FedEx Cup playoffs in America.
One reporter brought his Open faux paus to his attention Tuesday.
“I did say it the other day,” Poulter said. “I got caught up on it, I suppose. So sorry. The Open Championship.”
Asked if it mattered what it was called, Poulter didn’t get caught up in this dialogue.
“I’m sorry if I offend anybody with saying it or having said it. I won’t say it again,” he said. “I do apologize.”
TURNBERRY TESTED: If the weather turns particularly nasty this week, Paul Casey will be among those equipped with experience. He played the British Amateur at Turnberry in 1996 under tough conditions.
“They were shocking,” Casey said.
He recalls being 1- or 2-under par in appalling conditions, but when he reached his final hole, he needed a par to qualify for the match-play portion of the championship.
“I buried it in the bunker on the corner and made 8,” he said.
His greater memory comes from his playing partner that day, Gary Shemano, who Casey said is now a stockbroker in San Francisco.
“He stole the flag on the 14th hole, because he was having such an appalling time, and we were the last group out,” Casey said. “He took it as a memento, and it’s hanging in his office in San Francisco. I’ve seen it framed there; it’s very nice. I can’t blame him. It was just very, very tough. I’m not too scarred for life. I do like the golf course. It’s just a shame we couldn’t play it in good conditions.”
BRITISH ODDS: Here’s a news flash: Odds are Tiger Woods will win the British Open.
The William Hill betting house is offering 13-5 odds on a Woods victory, with second favorite Sergio Garcia way behind at 30-1. Woods is such an overwhelming favorite that oddsmakers are trying to find other ways to bring in money on the tournament.
That includes offering 9-4 odds on two-time defending champion Padraig Harrington making the cut. Those who see a three-peat in Harrington’s immediate future can get 40-1 on him winning.
Among the proposition bets are 6-4 odds on Woods hitting the fairway with his first shot and 4-11 odds that Woods will win more majors than Roger Federer.
Englishman Lee Westwood, who has never won a major, attracted a lot of attention in the William Hill books in early betting at 33-1 odds, while bettors can get 28-1 action on any English player winning the Open.
SAY CHEESE: Tiger Woods’ patience might be tested the first two days of the British Open, and it might not have anything to do with pot bunkers, gorse bushes or those crazy bounces in links golf.
It’s the shutterbug.
Woods will be playing with 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, who already has won three times on the Japan Golf Tour and is a a sensation among the Japanese media. When he made his PGA Tour debut at Riviera this year, organizers had to double the size of media dining as credential requests increased fourfold.
A Japanese reporter asked Woods how he thought it would go.
“Very quiet,” Woods said with a smile. “I don’t think you guys will be out there, will you?”
Woods is ultra sensitive with photographers. So is his caddie, Steve Williams, famous for putting one corporate photographer’s digital camera into a pond at the Skins Game when he clicked in Woods’ back swing.
“It will be interesting,” Woods said. “There will be a lot of people inside the ropes. It is what it is. I’ve been there before.”
He started to mention that Ishikawa had not, then remembered how much media he has coped with in Japan over the last few years.
“He’s been there, but he hasn’t done a major championship yet,” Woods said. “But he certainly has had to deal with a lot at a very young age, and he’s handled it well.”
The third member of the party is Lee Westwood, who already faces the pressure of playing before a home British crowd.
HISTORY MINOR: Mark Calcavecchia is not big on history.
His wife, Brenda, is caddying for him this week at Turnberry, and as they approached the 12th green, she inquired about the monument atop a knoll that honors fallen airmen during the World Wars.
Halfway through the explanation, Calcavecchia listened in, then turned and gazed toward the granite monument.
“I never realized that was there,” he said.