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The wind direction during three days’ of practice has the Royal & Ancient concerned enough that it might move some tees forward. Chief executive Peter Dawson said the most likely candidates were the par-5 seventh (some players couldn’t reach the fairway) and the par-3 11th (Phil Mickelson couldn’t reach the green with a driver).

Then there’s the par-4 13th, where Stricker hit driver off the tee and driver off the deck to get it near the green.

“Now, if the wind turns around, it’s a different story,” Dawson said.

It’s different for everybody _ even in the same group.

Stewart Cink, who won at Turnberry two years ago, was reminded of that while playing a practice round with Davis Love III, Lucas Glover and two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington. They came to the par-3 sixth hole, which measures 162 yards to the front edge of a green that is 35 yards deep. They all hit pitching wedge with the wind in their favor.

“Some of them were short by about 50 feet, and some of them went through the green into the rough,” Cink said. “And they all landed within 5 yards of each other.”

So what does it take on this most difficult links?

McIlroy believes the second shot will be key. Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, emphasized chipping and putting because the greens are so difficult. Kaymer favored the 10-foot putts, many of which will be for par.

K.J. Choi, who won The Players Championship in May and is having one of his best years, spoke in English to describe his experience, and while the sentences were short, the meaning was clear.

“Wind very important,” he said. “This wind is the most difficult. Greens are small targets. Chipping.”

Cink came up with the best answer of all _ as it relates to this British Open, and this style of golf.

“Attitude,” he said. “A lot of the field is weeded out already. They’re not accustomed to hitting good shots and being put in a bad spot. Because you don’t always get rewarded for good shots. But if you hit enough good shots, you won’t get in as many bad spots as someone who doesn’t hit a lot of good shots.”

That sounds simple enough, even though getting around Royal St. George’s can be a little complicated at times.

It all starts Thursday with a few key figures. McIlroy will try to become only the seventh player to capture the U.S. Open and British Open in the same season (that’s one thing Jack Nicklaus failed to achieve). Donald and Lee Westwood are Nos. 1 and 2 in the world, both from England, both searching for their first major on a links course that has had only one British winner since World War II.

The Americans have gone five straight majors without winning one _ the longest drought since the Masters began in 1934 _ and with Woods not at his best and not even playing, it’s difficult to pick which U.S. player might have a chance this week.

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