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Jean Van de Velde hit by virus

Frenchman Jean Van de Velde's hopes of a return to Carnoustie to play this year's British Open have been hit by a mystery virus.

Van de Velde, whose career was nearly ended by a knee injury four years ago, infamously lost the 1999 major in Scotland by triple-bogeying the 72nd hole before Briton Paul Lawrie won a four-hole playoff.

The 41-year-old Frenchman does not yet have a start in next month's major and a debilitating illness picked up in April may have put paid to his chances of qualification by a number of routes.

"I started to feel sick after the Portuguese Open," Van de Velde told a news conference on Wednesday, the day before he tries to go one better in the French Open than his runner-up spot in 2005. "I felt tired, had pains in my muscles and I was physically sick but there was a big question mark over what was wrong with me.

"It hasn't gone away. After I hit about 30 balls in practice I have to stop because of tiredness. I have some good days and some bad days."

Victory this week would give Van de Velde a chance of a Carnoustie exemption via a British Open order of merit that ends on Sunday.

If he fails, or if a French win is still not good enough to overtake prime front-runners Richard Green of Australia and Briton Bradley Dredge, Van de Velde will have to go to 36-hole international qualifying at Sunningdale on Monday.

Because of his condition Van de Velde was not optimistic about this week or next Monday.

He said: "I am not in the best condition for the French Open, which is disappointing. I have no expectations.

"I plan to be at Open qualifying at Sunningdale on Monday but I feel it should not be held after a big event like this one."

If Van de Velde does not make it at Sunningdale he has two more chances -- by finishing first or second in next week's European Open or the following week's Scottish Open.

Green and Dredge can clinch their British Open places this week, while Colin Montgomerie has a separate agenda.

The eight-times European number one, who has taken on Ryder Cup team mate Paul Casey's British caddie Craig Connelly, needs a good result at The National to avoid possibly dropping out of the world ranking top 50, where he currently lies 48th.

The British Open is from July 19-22.



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