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For the second straight year, the Open is shut for David Toms. (Photo: Getty Images)
For the second straight year, the Open is shut for David Toms. (Photo: Getty Images)

Open Championship Notebook: Sore back forces Toms to withdraw

David Toms will be replaced by Jeff Sluman. Jean Van de Velde skips out and the fields are set for the last chance to get in. news services

World No. 11 David Toms on Friday withdrew from the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. The 39-year-old American, who came back from heart surgery in November to win on the PGA Tour just two months later, is suffering from back problems and has decided not to make the trip.

His place is taken by compatriot Jeff Sluman, the next non-exempt player in the world rankings. Sluman and Toms are both past PGA Championship winners.

Toms, fourth in his British Open debut at St. Andrews in 2000, played only one round in the championship last July.

Paired with eventual runner-up Colin Montgomerie, the Ryder Cup star told organizers before the second round that he felt he may have hit a moving ball while holing out for a double-bogey 6 on the 17th hole of his opening 74.

"I was the only one that saw it and I just felt it was better that I disqualified myself," he said.

Toms has raised more than $1 million for victims of Hurricane Katrina in his home state Louisiana, but he had his own drama last September when he collapsed with heart trouble at a PGA Tour event. The non-life threatening condition was cured in an operation, and after recovering in time to play in the Presidents Cup, Toms won the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.

His injury will inevitably be a concern for American Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman. Toms stands fifth in the U.S. points standing.

VAN DE VELDE SKIPS OUT: Jean Van de Velde of France has pulled out of the final qualifying tournament for the Open Championship.

"I've decided not to play. I have other things to do," said Van de Velde, forever to be remembered for taking a triple-bogey 7 on the final hole of the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie and then losing in a playoff to Paul Lawrie. He hasn't played in the Open since 2001, but captured his first European Tour title since 1993 at the Madeira Island Open in March.

He would have been the main attraction next Monday and Tuesday at Conwy in north Wales, where 96 players will be competing for just three spots in the Open field. Van de Velde could still make it to the Open, but he needs to be the leading non-exempt player either in the Smurfit European Open this weekend or next week's Scottish Open.

FINALS ARE SET: The fields are set for the final round of Open Championship qualifying. Local Final Qualifying events will be played over 36 holes on Monday and Tuesday at Conwy in Wales as well as at Formby, Wallasey and West Lancashire in England.

Each field will contain 96 players, and the top three players from each of the four courses will qualify for the Open.

Among the players in these fields are PGA Tour players Tim Petrovic and Scott Dunlap, Nationwide Tour player Kevin Stadler, college star Oscar Floren of Sweden and Texas Tech University, longtime British amateur standout Gary Wolstenholme, and European Tour players Mikko Ilonen, Ian Garbutt, Gregory Havret, Mark Mouland, Joakim Haeggman, Thomas Levet, Miles Tunnicliff, Andrew Oldcorn, Sven Struver, Soren Hansen, Jean Hugo and Marcel Siem.

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