Golf: Tiger Woods returns to Royal Liverpool for his first major of year


HOYLAKE, England — Tiger Woods returned to Royal Liverpool on Saturday for the first time since he won his third British Open title in 2006.

The links course looked the same — except for the color of the grass.

Woods eight years ago played on a links that was baked out and brown from weeks of sunshine. The course was so firm and fast that he famously hit driver only once in 72 holes on his way to a two-shot victory over Chris DiMarco.

The 14-time major champion arrived at the course Saturday morning on the northwest coast of England for his first major of the year.

Woods had back surgery March 31 to relieve a nerve impingement, which caused him to miss the Masters for the first time and then the U.S. Open. He returned earlier than he expected three weeks ago in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional, where he missed the cut by four shots.

There was a light rain during his practice round, the first time it has rained this week. The forecast for next week is mostly cloudy and mild temperatures, with rain possible on the weekend of the British Open.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose were among those at Royal Aberdeen for the Scottish Open. Woods did not have Hoylake to himself. According to photos posted on Twitter by Royal Liverpool, top-ranked Adam Scott and Jason Day also were practicing.

Woods has gone nearly a year without winning. His last victory was the Bridgestone Invitational the first week in August, where he rolled to a seven-shot victory. He ended last year without a major for the fifth straight year, and got off to a slow start this year with recurring back pain that eventually led to surgery.

Women’s British Open

SOUTHPORT, England — Inbee Park shot a 4-under 68 and took the lead Saturday in the Women’s British Open after a late penalty against Ahn Sun-Ju.

Park was at 4-under 212 at Royal Birkdale, one shot clear of Ahn, Shanshan Feng of China and Suzann Pettersen going into the final round. The South Korean will be trying to become only the seventh player to win four of the LPGA Tour’s majors.

Ahn is still in the hunt, just not in the lead.

After what she thought was a 69, Ahn was penalized for building a stance in a pot bunker left of the 18th green. She was assessed a two-shot penalty, turning her par into a double bogey and her score into a 71.

It also made the final round wide open.

Scottish Open

ABERDEEN, Scotland — Justin Rose set up a chance to capture back-to-back titles by shooting a 5-under 66 at the Scottish Open on Saturday to move into a share of the lead with Marc Warren after three rounds.

Rose and Warren (67) are on 10-under-par overall at the warm-up tournament for the British Open, one shot clear of Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden (68).

Nearly three weeks after winning the Quicken Loans National at Congressional, Rose has kept up his strong form despite struggling with hayfever and, more recently, sinus problems.

Warren, who held a three-shot lead midway through the third round, is looking to avenge a final-round collapse at his home Scottish Open in 2012.

Rory McIlroy (68) and Phil Mickelson (70) were unable to mount considerable challenges to the leaders and are seven and eight shots off the lead, respectively.

John Deere Classic

SILVIS, Ill. — Brian Harman had two eagles in a 6-under 65 on Saturday that gave him a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the John Deere Classic.

Harman’s solid performance got him to 17-under 196 for the tournament at TPC Deere Run. Three-time winner Steve Stricker is alone in second, one stroke better than Scott Brown heading into the final round.

Tim Clark, Jerry Kelly, William McGirt and 2012 champion Zach Johnson are three back at 14-under 199. Clark shot a 64 to move into contention.

U.S. Senior Open

EDMOND, Okla. — Gene Sauers shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead in the third round of the U.S. Senior Open.

Sauers had a 33 on the back nine to take control at Oak Tree National heading into the final round on Sunday. He is at 7 under for the tournament.

Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Scott Dunlap are tied for second at 4 under.

Langer, who has dominated the Champions Tour all season, was solid, but had several potential birdies lip out during his even-par 71.

Marco Dawson, who shot a 76 on Friday, rebounded with a 69 on Saturday and is tied for fifth with Jeff Sluman and Vijay Singh.