One of them was Tiger Woods, who arrived at a nearby airport at 7 a.m., drove straight to the golf course and walked right onto the first tee. He stretched briefly, and without a practice swing, uttered his first words of his British Open week: "Get in."
He nearly holed the tee shot.
Woods meticulously worked his way through all 18 holes, taking notes, hitting a 2-iron off a par 5 into the wind to avoid some of the 206 bunkers. One reason for being so meticulous on a Sunday was the weather might not be this pleasant the rest of the week. The forecast was for rain just about every day, starting on Monday on the first official day of practice.
The grandstands are made by a company called Wernick Events Link. The grandstands will hold some 20,000 people across Royal Lytham & St. Annes, but it's the three sets around the 18th — two on either side, one to the back left corner so as not to block the clubhouse, that are so majestic. Workers began installing them in April.
The last three winners have been able to soak up the moment on the 18th. Stewart Cink in the playoff at Turnberry, Louis Oosthuizen at St. Andrews and Clarke last year all had safe leads. The engraver already was at work on the claret jug. Justin Leonard won at Royal Troon in 1997, though he was in the penultimate group and was busy grinding to make par. Still, he can't think of a better stage than the closing hole of golf's oldest championship.
"There's a lot of things you can understand just from watching on TV," he said.
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