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Open draw throws up interesting pairings

Ben Curtis will open his defence of the British Open on Thursday with Nick Faldo, the three-time winner who was left in his wake last year at Sandwich.

Curtis and Faldo will be joined in their match by in-form Frenchman Jean-Francois Remesy on the first tee for a 1442 BST local (1342 GMT) start following Monday's draw at Royal Troon.

The American produced one of the biggest shocks in Open history to win in 2003, ousting a host of leading names on the final day, including Faldo.

World number one Tiger Woods, without a major win since the 2002 U.S. Open, begins his challenge at 1342 BST with twice champion Greg Norman and British Ryder Cup player Lee Westwood.

The U.S. Masters champion Phil Mickelson plays with British hopeful Paul Casey and Japan's Shigeki Maruyama at 0831 BST and U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen tees off at 1309 BST with Robert Allenby and Jay Haas.

Ernie Els appears at 0758 BST with Justin Leonard, last winner of the championship at Troon in 1997, and Britain's U.S.-based Luke Donald.

The tournament, third of the year's four golf majors, tees off at 0630 BST. Australia's Peter O'Malley has the honour of hitting the first drive on the 370-yard, par-four opening hole.

This year's event, the 133rd edition since the world's oldest major tournament was first staged in 1860, is reckoned to be one of the most open of recent years following the relative slump in Woods's form since 2002.

Among those fancied again to be in the shake-up will be Fijian Vijay Singh, the world's number three, who was tied second last year. He has been drawn to tee off at 1409 BST with 2001 U.S. PGA champion David Toms.

Japan's Toshi Izawa, who was to have completed the trio, pulled out on Monday with a severe sinus infection. His place will be taken by Briton Ian Spencer.

The 156-strong field, though, will not include the luckless Briton John Morgan who was pipped in a playoff on Sunday for the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour by Australian Mark Hensby.

Morgan was told afterwards by U.S. Tour officials that he had the consolation of an Open place this week because of his performance in Illinois.

Hours later, they discovered they had been wrong and the spot went instead to a first reserve from final Open qualifying in Scotland over the weekend, Briton Barry Hume.

"It would have been lovely," Morgan, who was ranked 410th in the world, told reporters. "It's just one of those things. You've got to follow the rules. They apologised to me. It's a shame."

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