Groggy golfers arrive at St. Andrews for British

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ST. ANDREWS, SCOTLAND (AP) - Standing behind the 18th green, a scraggly Zach Johnson asked around for dinner recommendations.

“I hear there’s a good pizza place up the street,” he said. “Anyone know where that is?”

But Johnson actually had other things on his mind.

Like a shower, a shave _ and some sleep.

“I’m tired,” he conceded. “Very, very tired.”

On Sunday evening, Johnson was among more than two dozen golfers who hopped aboard a pair of chartered aircraft bound for the British Open following the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

After an eight-hour flight across the Atlantic, plus a 60-or-so-mile drive from Edinburgh to St. Andrews, Johnson dropped off his bags at a rented house and headed straight to the world’s most historic course.

He officially registered for the tournament and got in a little putting, even strolling out to the green of the famous 17th _ the “Road Hole.” But, with the first hints of a beard starting to pop out on his normally clean-shaven face, this wasn’t a day to worry a whole lot about how he was stroking it.

“I’m just trying to stay up as long as I can,” Johnson said Monday. “I’m going to go eat a good meal _ and then I’m going to bed.”

At least he got some sleep on the plane.

Paul Goydos, coming off a record-tying 59 at the John Deere and thrilled about getting into the Open as the final qualifier in the 156-player field, was a little too pumped up to doze off at 35,000 feet. So, the avid reader knocked out most of the second book in the late Stieg Larsson’s famous trilogy, “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” He also wolfed down a couple of meals, eating chicken for dinner and French toast for breakfast on the approach to Edinburgh.

“I basically just vegged on the plane,” said Goydos, also sporting the telltale stubble that seemed to be the mark of those coming in straight from the John Deere.

This has become a familiar ritual, made considerably more tolerable three years ago when officials at the John Deere tournament began arranging chartered flights to the British Open for anyone who agreed to play in their tournament.

For a donation of $1,250 per seat _ which goes to the John Deere’s charity fund _ golfers and their caddies can hop aboard a jet offering business-class amenities and cut hours off the time that would be required to fly commercial. This time, two planes were used _ a 60-seat Boeing MD-83 and a 48-seat Boeing 737.

Johnson, a Midwesterner who serves on the John Deere’s board of directors and has always felt a bit of a duty to play in that event despite the inopportune timing, can certainly appreciate the advantages of having a chartered flight to the Open. The first four times he did this trek, he had to make his own travel plans.

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