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Birkdale leaves its mark on big guns.

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HAVING been bruised by Royal Birkdale big guns Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els admitted they had had better weeks. Among the favourites at the start of the week, neither were able to tame a course made treacherous by high winds. World No.5 Els finished with a one-under 69, leaving him well down the field on 12-over 292. He dug his own grave on the first day with an opening 80. World No.2 Mickelson had a 71 and was two shots further back.South African Els, who missed the cut at The Masters and was never in contention in the US Open, is now already looking forward to the final Major the USPGA in August.

"It's been a very frustrating week. The first day I played myself out of the tournament on the back nine going nine over in nine holes. How do you come back from that?" he said.Aa "Now I've got one Major left and I'm going to work my tail off. It's a good thing it's in two weeks time."Mickelson said the winds that marked all four days of the tournament had been the toughest he had played in, but he admitted that it had been a fair test."The positives I can take are that I probably hit it better in the wind than I ever have. I just didn't capitalise on some of the shots I hit."When I had a couple of good putting weeks, like at Colonial and LA, I ended up winning, but I haven't putted at that level week in, week out. I'll have to work on that."Further down the field, home hope Lee Westwood was left to rue not the calamitous conditions but rather a temperamental putter. Westwood finished what was a disappointing week for him with a 73 for a 20-over total of 300. "I can handle the weather, but I was beaten up by the putter," Westwood said. "The disappointing thing is that at the US Open I went in with no expectations. This week that's just not been possible for me."

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 21, 2008
Words:367
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