Tiger Woods Heads To Ireland For Early British Open Practice

July 5, 2010- By Jonathan Lowell

Tiger Woods will be the featured player at an Irish charity tournament this upcoming week, and will look to get some practice in before the upcoming British Open at St. Andrews.  Woods could lose his No. 1 ranking for the first time in five years should Phil Mickelson finish well at the Scottish Open.

Mickelson had a chance to move ahead of Tiger in the standing by winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach two weeks ago, but failed to bump the player that all golf fans have gotten used to seeing in the top spot.  “Lefty” will play in the PGA-ranked Scottish open this weekend, and is favored by USA sportsbooks to win at +800 odds.

Woods is skipping the event to take part in the J.P. McManus Invitational Pro-Am.  The event is scheduled to start Monday, and last for two days.  Celebrities scheduled to take part along with Woods include Michael Douglas, Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, Aidan Quinn, Kyle MacLachlan, and Peter Gallagher.  Some of the faces from the sporting world are English Premier League Coaches Harry Redknapp, and Martin O’Neil.  Irish boy band Westlife is also expected to participate.

The tournament is put together every year by Irish horse racing billionaire J.P. McManus, who brings together groups of the Irish business elite, Hollywood celebrities, sporting icons, and professional golfers.  The event is reported to raise over $37 million for numerous Irish charities.

Former winner and Irish native Padrig Harrington is confident that Woods will gain valuable experience from the tournament, and bounce back to hold on to the world No. 1 ranking by the end of this month.

“There’s no doubt, any time Tiger hits form at all, he’s comfortably the favorite to win any of the majors,” said Harrington, who is also participating in the tournament at Adare. “St. Andrews sets up very well for him.”

Woods has earned two of his three British Open victories at St. Andrews in 2000 and 2005.

“He spins the ball very well,” Harrington said of Woods. “He’s the No. 1 player at getting the ball to finish where it lands. St. Andrews requires that so much because of the firmness of the greens. So I wouldn’t write him off, that’s for sure.”

Harrington plans to go with Woods to St. Andrews at the end of the week to get at least two practice runs in before the real thing.  He says the tournament at St. Andrews has become something of a lottery with the windy conditions and difficult hole locations.

“The greens are firmer than any we’ll play for the rest of the year, and the pin positions are exceptionally tight, so you’ve got to hit the ball into the greens very high,” he said. “Obviously if it’s very windy, that’s not so easy to go. It becomes guesswork if you have to throw the ball up in the air into a strong wind.”

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