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Even before his knee surgery, Peter Dawson believes, the odds were against Tiger Woods winning the Open this year. (Redington/Getty Images)

Open chief Dawson puzzled by two prominent absences

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Kenny Perry and Shingo Katayama are skipping the Open, and R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson can't imagine why.

LUSS, Scotland (PA) -- Everybody knows why Tiger Woods will not be at The Open Championship, but Royal and Ancient Club Chief Executive Peter Dawson cannot understand why two more of the world's top 50 are not coming, either.

Kenny Perry, twice a winner in America in recent weeks and currently 20th in the world the ranking, has opted for the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee instead. And, not for the first time, Japan's leader playing Shingo Katayama, ranked 47th, has turned down his exempt spot as well.

"I can't pretend I understand Kenny Perry's decision," stated Dawson. "He's having a great run and we are very sorry he's not here. I find it disappointing. You're not going to win majors if you don't enter and I think the history books show that majors are what you are remembered for.

"You spend a lot of money setting these events up. It's a pity and it's a shame Shingo Katayama is not coming as well. I can't pretend to understand that, either," he added. "He's failed to play two or three times in my time. I think he withdrew fairly late on a year or two ago -- I remember that because I had him down to play with Tiger (Woods)."

World No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Woods, not expecting to play again this year following knee ligament surgery, is pictured along with defending Open champion Padraig Harrington on posters on the approach road to Royal Birkdale.

"Obviously it's very sad that he's not here and let's hope he gets better quickly, but the Open is bigger than one player and we're still going to have a great championship," added Dawson. "He's played in every one since 1995 and won three, so it was odds against him winning this year."

Of particular interest to all the players making advance trips has been the green at the par-5 17th, much more undulating than it was previously.

"I guess it's going to be a talking point, but I'm trying to avoid it becoming a bigger one that it really is," commented Dawson.

"I've spent a lot of time there watching players play and Adam Scott echoed what I said, which is that they have 18 sportier greens at Augusta every year," he added. "We're going to use some reasonably sensible pin positions, I'm sure, and I really don't expect it to be an issue."

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