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Glad to be going home

After the 131st Open Championship concluded, Tiger Woods was looking forward to getting back to the Sunshine State.

"I am going home. I am going home to put some shorts on and a T-shirt and walk outside," Woods said.

Nearly two weeks in the United Kingdom can make a person feel that way. And Woods returns to Orlando without the hardware he had hoped to bring home.

The Claret Jug and the third leg of the Grand Slam eluded him, despite a 6-under-par 65 Sunday at Muirfield that was too little, too late. Woods ended up six shots back of playoff participants Ernie Els, Steve Elkington, Thomas Levet and Stuart Appleby.

Who knows how he would have responded, but if he had shot 75 instead of his career-worst 81 during Saturday's miserable conditions, he could have been in Sunday's playoff. Instead, he tied for 28th. His worst finish as a pro in a major is a tie for 29th, at the 1997 and 2001 PGA Championships.

"I just said to go out and play the way I have been playing all week," Woods said. "I have played well all week. Just Saturday was a brutal day."

Now Woods sets his sights on winning three majors in the same season, something he did in 2000, something only Ben Hogan in 1953 accomplished previously. The PGA Championship is next month at Hazeltine National outside of Minneapolis.

CRANKY COLIN: Colin Montgomerie's stormy relationship with the U.K. media continued. Vilified for shooting 74 Thursday, glorified for shooting 64 Friday, Montgomerie, of course, took a beating for shooting 84 Saturday.

But what bothered him was the description that he "stormed off" without speaking to reporters Saturday. One paper, the Sunday Mail, chastised him, saying Woods stood up to questions after shooting 81 "while our man crept out the back door. Class versus crass, wouldn't you say?"

"I would've spoken (Saturday)," Montgomerie said after finishing with a 75 that left him at 297, 13 over par. "Tiger Woods was here and you were more interested in him. I left five minutes after he had finished his round, I was off after him. I didn't storm off.

"I played in very difficult circumstances (Saturday) and I'm very disappointed in the way you (the media) keep on trying to believe that I have a bad temper on the golf course. I'm really hurt by it, I'm really hurt. I've pulled out of golf tournaments the next two weeks. I can't handle it any more."

Then, Monty stormed off.

ROLLERCOASTER RIDE: Elkington, an Australian who lives in Houston, came to Scotland more than a week ago for a 36-hole qualifier for the British Open. His score at Dunbar, one of the qualifying sites, made it into the 156-player field on the number.

Then he shot opening rounds of 71-73 and sweated out the 36-hole cut, which was 144 _ again, right on the number.

Playing early Saturday, Elkington beat the bad weather to the clubhouse, shooting 3-under-par 68. By the end of the third round, he was tied for 10th, four behind third-round leader Els.

"We got lucky (Saturday)," he said. "The leaders could have been gone, but we made the most of it. We took the most advantage we could."

Elkington then took advantage of his position. He hit 18 greens in regulation, made five birdies and shot 66. But he could have used one more. He hit a beautiful approach to No. 18 that stopped 4 feet from the hole. A birdie would have put him 7 under.

"All you can do is try to hole out every shot and try and hole out every putt," Elkington said. "It was a great shot, and that putt is one I should have made."

_ BOB HARIG

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