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Tom Watson refused to give into the wind and rain on Thursday. (Lyon/Getty Images)

Birkdale Notebook: Veterans show how to get it done

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Experience pays off big on Thursday for Tom Watson and Greg Norman. Plus, David Duval's on the rise, Rich Beem's not happy, Lucas Glover's all wet, and more. 

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) - Some of the Open Championship winners now on the Champions Tour showed how much experience matters on the links courses, especially Tom Watson.

He was the first player under par Thursday - albeit briefly after a birdie on the opening hole - but the five-time champion refused to buckle in the wind and rain and finished birdie-par for a 74.

"I have plenty of experience on Open Championship courses, but in conditions like this, you have to judge the wind right," Watson said. "I did that today. If you don't do that and you hit some bad shots -
that's it."

Mark O'Meara, who won at Royal Birkdale in 1998 at age 41, also had a 74 by playing the back nine in even par.

DUVAL STIRS: David Duval has said he was close to playing well again. In conditions that expose the slightest weakness, he used the first round of the Open Championship to show he was serious.

"I've been expecting some glimpses of greatness for a while," Duval said after opening with a steady 73.

Duval, who hasn't won since the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan at the end of 2001, showed remarkable control of his shots in 30 mph wind. His best shot was a 4-iron on the 184-yard 12th hole that he held against a harsh right-to-left wind to a right hole location. The ball settled 10 feet away for one of his three birdies.

"Getting the ball onto the green is success," he said. "Hitting it within 10 or 12 feet was obviously a great golf shot."

As for the six bogeys? Those were to be expected.

Duval, who won the Open Championship in 2001 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, has made only one cut in 11 starts on the PGA TOUR this year, and that was a tie for 60th at the Stanford St. Jude Classic. He has only two rounds under par.

But he rarely looked more in control than he did Thursday at Royal Birkdale.

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"I probably stand here with a lot more confidence than you maybe think I should if you simply look at results," Duval said. "But I'm the one holding the club, I'm the one hitting the shots, so I know how I'm truly swinging the golf club and how I'm playing. And I feel good about it."

WET WEATHER: Lucas Glover played his entire round in the rain, and summed up his experience with one comment.

"You know you're at the British Open when you come inside to change rain suits," he said.

BEEM'S BAD DAY: Rich Beem took a few practice strokes on the second green and moved over his ball when he backed off, noticing that the wind made it wiggle. It moved the ball slightly, and Beem called for an official.

He was assessed a one-shot penalty because it was deemed he had grounded his club, and thus had addressed the ball when it moved.

"I thought you had to be set to address the ball," Beem said. "We sat there and argued for a good seven or eight minutes. I called another official, and apparently, once you put the putter down, you've taken your stance."

A triple bogey turned into an 8, and Beem was done after nine holes, joining Sandy Lyle as the two players who quit early.

"I came over here to compete for the Open, and it wasn't meant to be," Beem said. "It stinks. But it's a hell of a game. Anybody who plays with any passion knows how hard it can be."

EARLY STARTERS: R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson was on the first tee for the opening shots Thursday, watching as Craig Parry, Simon Dyson and Lucas Glover found the short grass.

Someone asked if he knew about Glover's reputation?

"Oh? What would that be?" Dawson said.

Glover is among the fastest players on the PGA TOUR, and when told this, Dawson nodded his head and smiled.

"Really?" he said. "Funnily enough, so are the other two."

It's a safe bet those three players were not first off the tee by accident.

DIVOTS: Davis Love III was among the 29 players who failed to make a birdie in the opening round, but he takes on special significance. Love failed to make a birdie in his final two rounds of the U.S. Open, and now has gone 55 holes in majors without one. ...
All of the 19 rounds in the 80s came in the morning. ...
Mike Weir shot 71 despite two double bogeys.

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