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Golf: Harrington battles on but Lyle forced out.

IRELAND'S Padraig Harrington battled foul weather and a wrist injury in defence of his Open title at Royal Birkdale today, but former champion Sandy Lyle quit after just 10 holes.

Harrington injured his right wrist on Saturday and put his chances of teeing off at 75% and only 50-50 to get through the championship, but was on the first tee as scheduled at 7:58am.

The 36-year-old dropped two shots in the first four holes but his wrist survived several visits to Birkdale's thick rough and he battled back to lie just one over after nine holes.

In contrast Lyle was 11 over par when it called it quits, the 50-year-old, playing in his 33rd Open, explaining: "It's probably my shortest Open ever. I got off to a miserable start and around the third or fourth hit a couple of shots which rattled my fingers and went a little numb.

"I could not swing the golf club in the end and was doing myself more harm than good so decided to call it a day."

After four hours' play only two players had actually managed to get under par, five-time champion Tom Watson, 58, making a birdie on the first before dropping back, and Korea's KJ Choi reaching one under with a birdie on the fourth before a bogey on the next.

Choi still shared the lead on level par with American Heath Slocum, who had been first reserve and no doubt thought his chance of playing had gone when Harrington teed off.

But Japan's Toru Taniguchi then withdrew with a back injury and Slocum was able to tee-off at 9:42am.

Hartlepool golfer Graeme Storm finished his first round with a 76.

CAPTION(S):

PAR ONE: Australia's Craig Parry gets this year's Open under way today. Inset, Padraig Harrington begins the defence of his title
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2008
Words:306
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