LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (AP) – Robert Karlsson withdrew from the British Open on Wednesday, suggesting that he needs too much work on his game to play at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
That put the field at 156 players – the Open was overbooked this year – so he will not be replaced.
What followed was confusion over who would be the next reserve.
The Royal & Ancient said that Ben Crane had asked to be taken off the reserve list. The second alternate is Michael Thompson, a runner-up last month at the U.S. Open, who came over to England on the PGA Tour charter from the John Deere Classic. However, Crane said from his summer home in Oregon that he had not spoken to anyone from the R&A and was looking into flights.
Crane also was at the John Deere Classic, but chose to go to Oregon for at least a few days. He had flights booked for Monday and Tuesday in case players began pulling out. One of his options Wednesday was to leave Portland, Ore., and arrive in England about 10 a.m. If there was another withdrawal, he would need it to be a player who teed off in the afternoon.
“If something happens, I can always start flying private certain places,'' he said. “But if I can get in, I'm coming – as long as I can make it. They might have to call the Concorde back into service.''
The R&A did not give a reason for Karlsson pulling out. The Swede said on Twitter, “Just pulled out of the British open. Have got into some bad habits in my game and routine that I need to address. Taking a few weeks off.''
The Open essentially was overbooked this year because more players were exempt than officials anticipated. There were 160 players who were exempt or qualified. Mark O'Meara, Jason Day and U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson previously pulled out.
An additional tee time had been created to account for the additional player, and the Open was to begin Thursday morning with twosomes for the opening two times. Now, Garth Mulroy will move up one place and join Barry Lane and James Driscoll in the first group, while Richard Finch will move down to early afternoon and take Karlsson's spot with Branden Grace and Mark Wilson.
If there is another withdrawal, the reserve list will be activated.
Crane, who has dealt with back problems for much of his career, had to decide whether it was worth the risk of flying across eight time zones with no guarantee of a tee time.
Thompson came over needing as many as three players to withdraw, though he at least is able to play Royal Lytham & St. Annes as often as he wants before Thursday and prepare like the rest of the players. If he didn't get in, he said he would tour the English countryside with his wife.
Matteo Manassero of Italy is the third alternate. He was a four-hour flight away in Italy.