- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

SUNNINGDALE, England | Four days after his heart-rending playoff defeat to Stewart Cink at Turnberry, Tom Watson shot a 3-under 67 on Thursday to begin his pursuit of a fourth Senior British Open title.

Watson, who at 59 almost became the oldest major champion at the British Open last weekend, was three shots behind leader Fred Funk.

Funk birdied five of his last eight holes, including holing a bunker shot at No. 17, for a 6-under 64 - the lowest opening round in the history of the championship.

“The first nine could have been 3 or 4 over, and the back could have been 8 under,” said Funk, who had a two-shot lead on Jay Haas, Loren Roberts, Des Smyth and Christopher Williams.

Watson was another stroke back and tied with Tom Kite, Jerry Bruner, Greg Norman and Sam Torrance. Watson said he hadn’t watched a replay of his missed putt on the 72nd hole at Turnberry, an 8-footer for par that would have won him the claret jug.

“I don’t want to. That was the ugliest stroke in the world. I don’t want to relive that thing,” Watson said before admitting he initially wanted to play it over again. “Then I said, ‘To heck with it. That’s history. That’s over and done with.’ ”

Three share Evian lead

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France | Becky Brewerton shot a 5-under 67 and was tied for the first-round lead at the Evian Masters. Michelle Wie rescued a disappointing start with two late birdies.

Na Yeon Choi and In-Kyung Kim also shot 67s in windy and overcast conditions that forced play to be suspended for an hour because of late-afternoon thunder.

Kim’s round was highlighted by holing out with a 9-iron for eagle at the 11th. Choi made three birdies on both the front and back nine and only one bogey.

Wie bogeyed Nos. 3, 6 and 13 before birdies on the last two holes for a 73.

Rain hits Canadian

OAKVILLE, Ontario | Kevin Na birdied the final five holes and nine of his last 12 for a 9-under 63 and a two-stroke lead over Retief Goosen, Scott Verplank and Joe Durant during the suspended first round.

After playing one hole in the morning, Na waited out a 7 1/2-hour rain delay in the tournament plagued by wet conditions for the second straight year.

Woods to play Buick

GRAND BLANC, Mich. | Tiger Woods decided to play in the Buick Open as he prepares for the final major of the year.

Woods announced he would return to the Buick Open, which he has won twice. His longtime endorsement deal with Buick ended early last year, and there were questions whether Woods would play.

Woods did not play the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines earlier this year because he had not returned from knee surgery.

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