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Norman withdraws, citing death of friend

Two-time champion Greg Norman pulled out of the tournament Wednesday because of the death of a close friend in the United States.

"I'm extremely disappointed to miss the British Open for the second consecutive year," Norman said in a statement. "But I've always maintained there's nothing more important than family and friends."

Norman declined to identify the friend and asked for "privacy during this difficult time."

The 46-year-old Australian missed last year's British Open because of hip surgery. He skipped this year's U.S. Open because he needed to qualify for the tournament but ran into a scheduling conflict.

Norman was at the Royal Lytham course early Wednesday and was to play a practice round with New Zealand's Michael Campbell before withdrawing.

Japanese Toshimitsu Izawa also pulled out on Wednesday because of illness.

PLAYER'S FAREWELL: A British Open winner in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, Gary Player makes his final appearance this year. According to Retief Goosen, the 65-year-old South African is getting a little emotional.

Recently crowned U.S. Open champion and winner of last weekend's Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, Goosen teamed with Player and fellow South Africans Ernie Els and David Frost for Tuesday's practice round.

"It is great to play with Gary, which is possibly his last Open. The last hole he was a little emotional playing with us."

"It is a shame. He has done so much for the game and it is great to see him."

Having turned 65, the 1959, '68 and '74 champion loses his automatic exemption.

WAIT FOR ME, TIGER: As a young star who hopes to keep up with Tiger Woods, Adam Scott had to chase after the British Open champion in practice.

Scheduled to start at 6 a.m. local time, Scott arrived at Royal Lytham to find the clubhouse locked.

"I had to wait to get my clubs out of the locker room," said Scott, who turned 21 on Monday and is considered one of the stars of the future. "The clubhouse wasn't open, Tiger had already played the first hole and then I caught up to him.

"I knew he was always going to go out early. That's the way he plays," said the young Australian, who at least had a sneak preview of Woods' preparation.

"That's fine, because we don't play a lot of tournaments together," Scott said. "So we got a chance to play here and I could see what he was doing out there and how he is preparing."

STILL WAITING: Twice a runner-up and a fourth-place finisher, Jesper Parnevik is something of the British Open's version of tennis star Goran Ivanisevic.

Like the Croatian, who won Wimbledon two weeks ago after losing three times in the final, the Swede hopes for a similar result.

Parnevik was the victim of a stunning last round by Nick Price at Turnberry in 1994 and Justin Leonard's 65 at Troon in '97. In '98, he couldn't overhaul Mark O'Meara and tied for fourth.

"I think the one at Troon was the one that hurt most, because I really thought I was going to win that one," he said. "But Justin came out and shot that great 65. That's the way it is.

"Same thing with Nick Price. He had that great finish at Turnberry. And I played very well at Birkdale, as well, but Mark O'Meara was the guy to win the trophy there. That was his year.

"I'm playing better than I have in a long time, so I'm looking forward to having a good week."

_ TIMES WIRES

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