Bjorn gets call as Singh withdraws

SANDWICH, England — Thomas Bjorn will get a chance to redeem himself at Royal St. George's.

Three-time major champion Vijay Singh withdrew Monday from the British Open and was replaced in the field by Bjorn, who threw away a chance at winning the claret jug on this course eight years ago.

Bjorn had a two-shot lead playing the par-3 16th when he put his tee shot into the right bunker, then twice watched his shot roll back into the sand. He made double bogey, bogeyed the 17th to lose the lead and closed with par to finish one shot behind winner Ben Curtis.

Singh, who got into the British Open as an alternate, had been dealing with back problems and had to withdraw from the AT&T National two weeks ago despite still being in contention going into the weekend.

Bjorn might forever be linked with Royal St. George's for the way it ended. He has not played the 16th hole since that day, although Bjorn told Press Association that he has put it behind him — at least for now.

"When I get there, I won't be thinking, 'This is a horror hole.' It's a good hole," Bjorn said. "I just tried to erase it from my memory, but it might just creep into my mind on Sunday if I am playing well."

Bjorn has won 13 times worldwide, including this year at the Qatar Masters. Since losing the Open at Royal St. George's, he had another chance at the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol, losing by one shot when Phil Mickelson birdied the final hole.

U.S. Open winner McIlroy paired with Els: Coming off a record-breaking win at the U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy is paired with Ernie Els and Rickie Fowler for the first two rounds of the British Open.

The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland had a 16-under score last month at Congressional. He's favored to make it two majors in a row at Royal St. George's.

Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen will play the first two rounds with Mickelson and defending PGA champ Martin Kaymer. The world's top-ranked player, England's Luke Donald, is paired Thursday and Friday with Ryo Ishikawa and Sergio Garcia.

Kim's alternate plans: Anthony Kim missed the cut in the AT&T National and set aside the next two weeks to work on his game in what has been the worst season of his young career. His plan was to go to Michigan this week to spend time with his swing coach.

Instead, he spent Monday playing a practice round at Royal St. George's. Kim got into the field as an alternate when Tim Clark withdrew, and he hopes to make the most of it.

"I wasn't sure I would be here after the stretch I've had," said Kim, who has only one top 10 this year and has missed the cut a career-high eight times. "I've just had one or two bad swings that prohibits me from going forward. I was going to Michigan this week, but any time you get a chance in a major, you want to be there."

Bjorn gets call as Singh withdraws 07/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 12:27am]

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