Continued from page 1

ALTERNATE DECISIONS: Ben Crane and Michael Thompson are the top two alternates for the British Open. Both were at the John Deere Classic on Sunday, but that’s where the similarities end.

Crane, the first alternate, was headed to his summer home in Oregon.

Thompson, the second alternate, got on the charter flight for PGA Tour players and headed the other direction for England.

“I saw him in the airport,” Thompson said Monday on the practice range. “He was surprised I was coming.”

Crane has not given up on playing the British Open. He has booked flights the next two days. And while it seems like he’s taking a big risk by staying in America, that’s not necessarily the case. Because of a peculiar set of circumstances, the British Open already has more players than its 156-man field.

Even if someone withdraws, the alternate list will not be activiated. Crane would need two players to WD before he gets in. Thompson needs three players to bail out. The third alternate is Matteo Manassero, who flew home to Italy.

For Thompson, it wasn’t as big of a deal to make the long flight with little hope of getting in. He doesn’t have a history of back pain, for one thing. And he has never played the British Open. This is different from the U.S. Open, which doesn’t allow alternates to play the golf course until they officially are in the tournament.

At the British Open, Thompson can play the course as often as he likes.

“That’s a big reason why I came,” he said. “I could prepare like everyone else. I had friends who were alternates at the U.S. Open, and they couldn’t play at all.”

This is not the first time playing links golf for Thompson, a runner-up at the U.S. Open. He played in the Palmer Cup while at Alabama _ matches between college players from the U.S. and Europe _ and stayed a little longer to play Turnberry and Dundonald on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

“I have a good feeling about getting in,” Thompson said. “But I don’t have any control over that. I’ll be ready to go on Thursday. If I don’t get in, my wife and I are going to tour the countryside.”


LEFTY HISTORY: Bubba Watson is clearly not much of a history buff.

The Masters champion had no idea that Bob Charles became the first left-hander to win a major title when he captured the British Open at Royal Lytham in 1963.

“I was 15 years away from being born,” Watson said Monday. “So no, I did not know.”

Story Continues →