Greg Norman Despite British Open success, Greg Norman turns down PGA Championship invite

Despite making a serious run at becoming the oldest champion in major tournament history at the British Open, Greg Norman is apparently staying true to his word about having no desire to be a full-time player.

Following his tie for third in the Open championship at Royal Birkdale, Norman was offered an exemption to play in next week's PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. However, the 53-year-old Australian said he respectfully declined the offer to play in the final major of 2008.

Instead, Norman will bypass the PGA Championship to honor a previous commitment.

"While I truly appreciate the PGA extending me an exemption for this year's PGA Championship, I have elected to decline in favor of adhering to the professional and personal commitments I made prior to The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale," Norman said in a statement released on his Web site. "I wish the PGA and Oakland Hills all the very best for what I'm sure will be a great week for golf."

Norman was able to recapture some past glory at the British Open, taking a two-shot lead into the final round. However, he faltered with a final-round 77 in windy conditions and settled for a third-place tie with Henrik Stenson.

Last week, Norman finished fifth in the Senior British Open. Next, he's scheduled to play in the U.S. Senior Open, which starts Thursday in Colorado at the Broadmoor.

With his top-four finish in the British Open, Norman also earned a spot to play in the 2009 Masters. He has yet to announce his intentions for next year's first major at Augusta National.

Phil Mickelson gets an early look

Winless in majors since capturing the 2006 Masters, world No. 2-ranked golfer Phil Mickelson spent more than three hours Tuesday checking out the front nine holes at Oakland Hills in preparation for next week's PGA Championship, according to The Associated Press.

Mickelson has played Oakland Hills before, including his appearance on the 2004 Ryder Cup team. However, the course in Bloomfield Township, Mich., has been lengthened by 400 yards and landing areas have been changed.

"We've got a lot more work to do," Mickelson told the AP after playing alongside short-game coach Dave Pelz. Mickelson has finished in the top 20 at all three majors this year, ending fifth at the Masters, tied for 18th at the U.S. Open and tied for 19th in the British Open.

Chris Wood ready to play for pay

Eight days after turning in the best finish by an amateur in the British Open at Royal Birkdale, Chris Wood has opted to change his status and turn professional, according to an AP report.

Wood, 20, shot 10-over 290 in difficult conditions to tie for fifth in the Open with Jim Furyk, which was seven strokes behind repeat Open champion Padraig Harrington. While Wood earned no money for his efforts, Furyk received a check for $359,730.

"Royal Birkdale was the best week of my life and now I am looking forward to an equally exciting and successful future in the professional ranks," Wood told the AP. "I played with Darren Clarke (Sunday) and I've spoken to another two professionals, and they've all said that I'll be a better player after a year on the Tour."

Worth noting

• The term "sophomore slump" is apparently not in the vocabulary of Steve Marino as the second-year pro is coming off a third-place finish at last weekend's RBC Canadian Open. So far in 2008, Marino has made the cut in 18 of 22 starts, earned more than $1.4 million and is No. 35 on the money list thanks to four top-10 finishes.

• A big weekend at the RBC Canadian Open powered Glen Day to his first top-10 finish since placing sixth at the 2006 Southern Farm Bureau Classic, spanning 39 starts. The 42-year-old Day shot a third-round 64 and 68 in the final round to climb to No. 145 on the FedEx Cup points list.

• Even after a final-round 75, the up-and-coming Anthony Kim finished tied for eighth at the RBC Canadian Open, marking his sixth top-10 finish in 16 starts this year. Kenny Perry (20 starts), Stewart Cink (16 starts) and Robert Allenby (19 starts) currently lead the PGA Tour with seven top-10s, while Jim Furyk, Geoff Ogilvy and Tiger Woods all have six top-10s this year.

July 30, 2008

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