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Golf: British Open Begins Thursday - 2004-07-14

Golf's third major tournament of the year, the British Open, begins Thursday on the par-71 Royal Troon golf course in Troon, Scotland.

American Tiger Woods, barely hanging on to his number one world ranking, will be looking for his first victory in a major since winning the 2002 U.S. Open. Last year, he tied for fourth place at the British Open played the Royal St. George's course. Woods is looking forward to playing at Troon and hopes the weather cooperates.

"This golf course is 100 percent dependent on the weather and if it doesn't blow, then the guys are going to shoot some good numbers, but if it does blow it presents quite a challenge especially coming home [the last several holes]," he said.

South African Ernie Els, ranked second in the world, won the 2002 British Open Championship. Last year he placed 18th and is looking forward to playing on this year's course.

"The golf course is playing quite firm," he said. "As you can see the ball is running quite a bit, but the greens are greens."

American Phil Mickelson will try to win his second major of the season after winning the U.S. Masters in April. The world number four golfer is excited to play on the Scottish course and has been working hard to prepare himself for this tournament.

"I am really looking forward to playing at Troon," said Phil Mickelson. "It's a wonderful golf course that I have been working very hard to hit the shots, or to learn how to play the shots, effectively to suit this golf course."

Defending champion American Ben Curtis will also be playing in this year's edition of the British Open. He won last year with a one under-par for the four rounds.