Perry extends US hot streak but blows out links challenge

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The Independent Online

Justin Rose has such an unbreakable connection with this old links that he will for ever wonder how anyone – professional, amateur, golf fan, goldfish – could ever stay away from an Open at Birkdale. So when he was told yesterday that the golfer who could justifiably claim to be the hottest in the game has elected to play in Milwaukee instead this week, his jaw almost connected with the practice green.

Kenny Perry's decision to skip the Open for some event called the US Bank Championship has effected a similar response from many of the field here, particularly after he prevailed yet again at the John Deere Classic at the weekend. It was his third win in seven weeks, took him to 16th in the world and made him only the second player to record a hat-trick of titles on either the American or European tours this season. The other happens to have the initials TW. Little surprise, then, that Rose and Co were so flabbergasted.

"Kenny is arguably the best player in the world right now and I find it amazing he is not here," said Rose, who 10 years ago became the darling of Birkdale when fourth as a 17-year-old amateur. "He said his goal is the Ryder Cup, but that is virtually signed, sealed and delivered. This would be a trip that wouldn't hurt his Ryder Cup chances, would it? It is strange he is not playing and is not testing himself at the highest level. I couldn't personally imagine myself opting out of a major. It is what I want to judge myself on at the end of my career. Kenny obviously has different goals."

In Illinois on Sunday, Perry was once again asked to list what they could possibly be and, intriguingly, he came up with his aversion to links golf, despite his last three outings in the Open yielding highly respectable top-20 finishes. "I played Birkdale in '91 and missed the cut there," said Perry, who also chose not to play in last month's US Open.

"My stroke average at the British Open is 76 point whatever. I'm not good when it gets 40 and 50 degrees and 50 miles an hour winds. I like hot weather. I am a hot weather guy."

Injury seemed set to be the dominant theme of this Open and yesterday Nick Faldo revealed that Luke Donald is a major doubt to make his Ryder Cup team. As the European captain said about this solid performer: "He will be missed."

Faldo's news did come as something of a shock as Donald had announced, when pulling out of this championship last week, that his wrist injury would keep him out for "three to four weeks". However, his emails to Faldo told a different and far bleaker story. "Luke told me his recovery period would be more likely to be two to three months and that's really unfortunate for him. After all the work he's put in, it must feel like an athlete missing the Olympics."

Even if Donald does manage to make it back in time for the September match in Kentucky it is long odds against Faldo selecting him as a wild card. Donald is out of the qualifying positions at the moment anyway and Faldo stressed: "I will be picking people on form."

Meanwhile, the draw for the opening two rounds was made and Paul Casey will surely be looking forward to his pairing with Phil Mickelson. The last time he partnered the world No 2 in the Open was at Troon in 2004 and then the young Englishman happened to shoot a five-under-par 66 to be the joint first-round leader.

After his recent slump this could be just the inspiration Casey needs, although he will not wish to be reminded of his second round. He laboured to a 77 and finished joint 20th.

Mr Lu recalls hard-headed woman who inspired his grandstand finish

Thirty-seven years after Royal Birkdale made him world famous, Taiwan's "Mr Lu" has said he still hopes to return one day for a reunion with the woman he hit on the head that week. Lu Liang-Huan (right), now aged 73, treated Lillian Tipping and her husband to an all expenses paid holiday to his home country after the incident on the final hole of the 1971 championship, in which he finished runner-up to Lee Trevino.

"This time I cannot make it, but I'll never forget that day," he said. "When I go back next time maybe we can meet up."

Lu says he can still compete on his day. In one round last year, "I shot 66, seven birdies, one bogey. Now I'd be lucky to shoot 100, but I hope that my body will allow me to continue to play. I need the exercise."

Lu charmed the galleries in 1971, tipping his pork-pie hat following each successful shot in the 100th edition of the event, and the felled Mrs Tipping quickly forgave him. "I'll never forget that woman. I was so sorry when I hit her – I hit her so hard. She said: 'Mr Lu, get another birdie for me'." He did, but Trevino matched it to win by one. The following week at the French Open she sent daily cables wishing him well and he took the title.

Matt McGeehan

Tee-off times for first and second rounds at Birkdale

(GB or Irl unless stated)

06.30 and 11.41

L Glover (US), C Parry (Aus), S Dyson

06.41 and 11.52

J-B Gonnet (Fr), P Perez (US), P Fowler (Aus)

06.52 and 12.03

S Kjeldsen (Den), B Jones (Aus), M Kuchar (US)

07.03 and 12.14

J Kelly (US), D Fichardt (SA), D McGrane

07.14 and 12.25

G Storm, S Strange (Aus), S Lyle

07.25 and 12.36

R Green (Aus), M Calcavecchia (US), A Hansen (Den)

07.36 and 12.47

T Watson (US), J Rose, A Baddeley (Aus)

07.47 and 12.58

G Ogilvy (Aus), O Wilson, D Love III (US)

07.58 and 13.09

R Goosen (SA), P Harrington, J Leonard (US)

08.09 and 13.20

R Sterne (SA), H Stenson (Swe), J Quinney (US)

08.20 and 13.31

H Mahan (US), V Singh (Fiji), R Saxton (Neth)

08.31 and 13.42

M Kaymer (Ger), S Verplank (US), E Els (SA)

08.42 and 13.53

D Howell, A Romero (Arg), J B Holmes (US)

08.58 and 14.09

L Westwood, K J Choi (S Kor), B Curtis (US)

09.09 and 14.20

N O'Hern (Aus), I Poulter, P Goydos (US)

09.20 and 14.31

P Mickelson (US), H Tanihara (Japan), P Casey

09.31 and 14.42

B Weekley (US), C Montgomerie, M Weir (Can)

09.42 and 14.53

T Taniguchi (Japan), R Finch, J Daly (US)

09.53 and 15.04

D Duval (US), S Khan, D Frost (SA)

10.04 and 15.15

R Beem (US), P Edberg (Swe), T Sherreard

10.15 and 15.26

M Matsumura (Japan), T Gillis (US), B Hume

10.26 and 15.37

S Kai (Japan), T Petrovic (US), D Horsey

10.37 and 15.48

A Canete (Arg), C Barlow (US), P Archer

10.48 and 15.59

J Elson, R Blizard (Aus), J Bevan

10.59 and 16.10

A Blyth (Aus), J Howarth, J Cunliffe (SA)

11.10 and 16.21

T Aiken (SA), G Boyd, B Lamb (Aus)

11.41 and 06.30

J van de Velde (Fr), S Webster, A Tampion (Aus)

11.52 and 06.41

P Walton, D Smail (NZ), M Letzig (US)

12.03 and 06.52

P Waring, H Otto (SA), K Stadler (US)

12.14 and 07.03

Paul Lawrie, R Mediate (US), A Cabrera (Arg)

12.25 and 07.14

N Fasth (Swe), M O'Meara (US), M Campbell (NZ)

12.36 and 07.25

G McDowell, R Sabbatini (SA), T Hamilton (US)

12.47 and 07.36

J Furyk (US), N Dougherty, C Villegas (Col)

12.58 and 07.47

R Karlsson (Swe), G Norman (Aus), W Austin (US)

13.09 and 07.58

R Allenby (Aus), S Stricker (US), B Hebert (Fr)

13.20 and 08.09

A Scott (Aus), Z Johnson (US), P Larrazabal (Sp)

13.31 and 08.20

G Havret (Fr), T Clark (SA), S Cink (US)

13.42 and 08.31

Wen-chong Liang (Ch), F Jacobson (Swe), J Overton (US)

13.53 and 08.42

T Immelman (SA), S Hansen (Den), A Kim (US)

14.09 and 08.58

M A Jimenez (Sp), S Ames (Can), C Howell III (US)

14.20 and 09.09

P Hanson (Swe), B Bryant (US), R Pampling (Aus)

14.31 and 09.20

R Imada (Japan), S Garcia (Sp), S O'Hair (US)

14.42 and 09.31

S Appleby (Aus), B Snedeker (US), R Fisher

14.53 and 09.42

A Yano (Japan), J Edfors (Swe), T Lehman (US)

15.04 and 09.53

S Wakefield, J Williamson (US), J Kingston (SA)

15.15 and 10.04

G Bourdy (Fr), D Chia (Malay), J Rollins (US)

15.26 and 10.15

P Marksaeng (Thai), C Wood, S McCarron (US)

15.37 and 10.26

A Wall, A Noren (Swe), E Porter (Aus)

15.48 and 10.37

P Baker, H Iwata (Japan), A Cejka (Ger)

15.59 and 10.48

D Labelle (US), Chih-bing Lam (Sing), J-F Lima (Por)

16.10 and 10.59

M Wiegele (Aut), A Que (Phil), D McGuigan

16.21 and 11.10

J Lomas, Y Tsukada (Japan), P Appleyard