ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Tiger Woods will play the first two rounds of the British Open with Justin Rose of England, one of the hottest players in golf with two PGA Tour victories in his last three starts.
It will be the first time Woods and Rose have been drawn together in the Open since 2002 at Muirfield, although the circumstances were far different eight years ago.
Rose had just won his first tournament as a professional and was starting to turn his career around. Woods was going for the third leg of the calendar Grand Slam.
Woods has not won this year since returning from a five-month hiatus to cope with the chaos in his personal life. Rose, meanwhile, won for the first time in America at the Memorial, had the 54-hole lead in his next tournament, then won two weeks ago at Aronimink in the AT&T National outside Philadelphia.
Camilo Villegas of Colombia is the other player in that group, which tees off at 9:09 a.m. local time.
The 29-year-old Englishman is not the only player coming to St. Andrews in top form. U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell has won his last two tournaments, the Wales Open and U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. McDowell is in the same group with two other U.S. Open champions, Geoff Ogilvy and Jim Furyk.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson might have as much interest in Woods the first two days. He will be playing with Colin Montgomerie, the Ryder Cup captain who was runner-up to Woods at St. Andrews five years ago. Also in that group is Retief Goosen, who denied Mickelson a U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
Lee Westwood, at No. 3 in the world the highest-ranked European, will play with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Adam Scott, while defending Open champion Stewart Cink is with Ernie Els and Ian Poulter.
Tom Watson, the runner-up a year ago at Turnberry, at least is playing with someone closer to his own age. A year ago, he played the first two rounds with 15-year-old Matteo Manassero. This year, the 60-year-old Watson is playing with 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa. Joining them will be two-time Open champion Padraig Harrington.
They will be in the group directly behind Woods.