Price's poignant past

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The Independent Online
If anyone ought to get the heebie-jeebies entering Royal Troon it is Nick Price. Missing the cut eight years ago hardly endeared himself to the place, but a grislier reminder lurks in his mind, writes Guy Hodgson.

In 1982 the Open was his for the taking. Driving up Troon's 13th, the par-four Burmah, the field was in his wake and the claret jug was heading for his lips. Four dropped shots later and Tom Watson had taken the fourth of five titles. "I didn't win this Championship," the American said, "I had it given to me."

Price, 40, recalled that fall from grace yesterday, safe in the knowledge that the damage done that Sunday was repaired by an Open win at Turnberry three years ago. "I remember the back nine on the last day very well, but that's about it," he said. "The fact I didn't win was hard to stomach for a little bit after that.

"Needless to say I learnt from that experience. I don't believe I would be the player or person I am now if I'd won so maybe it was a blessing. I think if I'd never won the Open I'd have kicked myself for the rest of my life but seeing as I did it in '94 it puts the second place in a higher position."

The Zimbabwean has won three majors since, including a finish of eagle, birdie, par to overhaul Jesper Parnevik at Turnberry and erase once and for all the image of a choker. He is among the favourites this week, although as most of the leading contenders have arrived in Ayr with good golf dripping out of them that is not necessarily a clue to the destination of the title.

"If you look back at my first British Open in 1975," Price said, "there were a handful of people who really had an opportunity to win. Now there are 15 people who have a realistic chance of winning if they play their good, solid game plus another 40 guys who come into the category.

"Guys do not lose tournaments as much as win them. You shoot one or two under on the back nine and they come flooding past you. You've got to shoot three or four under."

As for his own chances, he describes them as pretty good now that cortisone injections have helped repair an injured shoulder. "The only thing I would like to have done in the last four or five weeks is to have won a tournament. I've come close but I just haven't had the final punch in my game."

If he finds it, Troon's defences will be open. After all, it owes him one.

Tee-off times at Troon

GB or Irl unless stated

0715 (tomorrow) and 1135 (Friday) *S Webster, A Cabrera (Arg), D Howell

0725 and 1145 T Purtzer (US), R Boxall, W Westner (SA)

0735 and 1155 P Blackmar (US), J Spence, S McCarron (US)

0745 and 1205 N Sato (Japan), P McGinley, B Watts (US)

0755 and 1215 R Goosen (SA), S Torrance, P Stankowski (US)

0805 and 1225 P Lonard (Aus), *C Watson, J Maggert (US)

0815 and 1235 L Westwood, S Stricker (US), G Norman (Aus)

0825 and 1245 P-U Johansson (Swe), S Mori (Japan), J Nicklaus (US)

0835 and 1255 C Montgomerie, T Watson (US), M McNulty (Zim)

0845 and 1305 R Russell, F Couples (US), E Romero (Arg)

0855 and 1315 A Coltart, M Calcavecchia (US), T Izawa (Japan)

0905 and 1325 I Woosnam, R Allenby (Aus), P Stewart (US)

0915 and 1335 M O'Meara (US), S Maruyama (Japan), S Lyle

0925 and 1345 T Bjorn (Den), J Cook (US), S Ames (Trin)

0935 and 1355 J-M Olazabal (Sp), T Kite (US), N Ozaki (Japan)

0945 and 1405 P Broadhurst, J Leonard (US), W Riley (Aus)

0955 and 1415 J Van de Velde (Fr), L Roberts (US), P Senior (Aus)

1005 and 1425 D Love (US), S Ballesteros (Sp), H Miyase (Japan)

1015 and 1435 I Baker-Finch (Aus), R Claydon, B Tway (US)

1025 and 1445 R McFarlane, B Andrade (US), M Roe

1035 and 1455 A Magee (US), P Curry, J Coceres (Arg)

1045 and 1505 K Duke (US), S Bottomley, *Y Taylor (US)

1055 and 1515 A Sandywell, G Clark, B McGovern

1105 and 1525 J Remesy (Fr), V Phillips, D Tapping

1115 and 1535 R Karlsson (Swe), T Gogele (Ger), C Perry (US)

1125 and 1545 J Kernohan (US), G Ghei (Ind), P Hinton

1135 and 0715 W Bladon, A Crerar, P Haugsrud (Nor)

1145 and 0725 *S Young, G Orr, DA Russell

1155 and 0735 D Hart (US), I Garrido (Sp), M Bradley (US)

1205 and 0745 C Strange (US), J Lomas, E Els (SA)

1215 and 0755 D Edlund (Swe), J Furyk (US), Y Kaneko (Japan)

1225 and 0805 D Clarke, S Jones (US), F Nobilo (NZ)

1235 and 0815 M James, M Wiebe (US), C Pavin (US)

1245 and 0825 C Rocca (It), L Janzen (US), M Long (NZ)

1255 and 0835 B Faxon (US), J Parnevik (Swe), R Green (Aus)

1305 and 0845 T Woods (US), B Langer (Ger), S Elkington (Aus)

1315 and 0855 P Harrington, M Brooks (US), C Parry (Aus)

1325 and 0905 M-A Martin (Sp), T Lehman (US), V Singh (Fiji)

1335 and 0915 P Mitchell, C Stadler (US), D Frost (SA)

1345 and 0925 P Azinger (US), *D Olsson (Swe), G Player (SA)

1355 and 0935 N Faldo, T Tolles (US), N Price (Zim)

1405 and 0945 M-A Jimenez (Sp), D Duval (US), G Turner (NZ)

1415 and 0955 P Hedblom (Swe), J Haas (US), Kim Jong-duck (S Kor)

1425 and 1005 A Cejka (Ger), S Mickelson (US), S Appleby (Aus)

1435 and 1015 R Damron (US), P Baker, R Davis (Aus)

1445 and 1025 P O'Malley (Aus), *B Howard, J Payne

1455 and 1035 G Brand Jnr, G Day (US), C Mason

1505 and 1045 P Fulke (Swe), J Kelly, *J Miller

1515 and 1055 M Bradley, P Teravainen (US), S Dunlap (US)

1525 and 1105 M Miller, G Murphy, M Mamat (Sing)

1535 and 1115 L Batchelor, K Eriksson (Swe), C Clark

1545 and 1125 R Jacquelin (Fr), G Dodd (Aus), J Steenkamer (Neth)

* denotes amateur