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Golf: Golf...The Open 2003

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posted on Jul, 16 2003 @ 06:30 PM
Set your alarm clocks early if you want to keep track of the opening shots in the 132nd Open.

The first three-ball sets out at the unearthly hour of 6.30am when in all likelihood defending champion Ernie Els will still be fast asleep.

Els starts the defence of the crown he won 12 months ago at 1.54pm and by then the first chapters of this intriguing story will already have unfolded.

The big South African will surely make note of Tiger's score before he launches his tee-shot at the first hole. But whatever score Woods posts from his 9.09am start, don't expect Ernie to alter his gameplan.

Three years ago at St Andrews, Woods went out at 9.30am and threw down the gauntlet with a five-under-par 67. But Els played some beautiful golf in the afternoon and in the calm evening sunshine bettered Tiger's effort by a stroke to take the first-round lead with a 66.

Els let his chance slip by carding a frustrating 72 the following morning and Tiger, sensing his opportunity, raced clear with a 66 a blow from which Els could never recover.

But three years on and the picture is very different. Els starts this championship as the defending champion and has posted more worldwide victories than anyone on the planet this year. Tiger, meanwhile, has rightly or wrongly been forced to fend off accusations of being in a slump.

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