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Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Robert Karlsson out of Open

Associated Press

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -- Robert Karlsson pulled out of the Open Championship, and so did Ben Crane.

Only one of them had a tee time in the first place.

Karlsson withdrew Wednesday afternoon because he didn't think his game was ready for Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

"Just pulled out of the British Open. Have got into some bad habits in my game and routine that I need to address. Taking a few weeks off," Karlsson tweeted.

The Open already had one player over the limit, so the Swede's withdrawal put the field at 156 players and Karlsson was not replaced.

What followed was confusion over who would be the next reserve.

Crane, the first alternate, was at his summer home in Oregon and looking into flight options to England. Michael Thompson, the second alternate, flew over to Lytham on the PGA Tour charter from last weekend's John Deere Classic.

"If I can get in, I'm coming -- as long as I can make it," Crane said. "They might have to call the Concorde back into service."

But the Royal & Ancient put out a news release saying that Crane had taken his name off the reserve list.

Jonathan Tippetts-Aylmer of the R&A's registration department said Crane's management withdrew him from the championship a short time before Karlsson announced he was out. He said the decision was due to Crane not being able to get to the course on time.

This was news to Crane and manager Tommy Limbaugh.

"I am not officially withdrawn," Crane said in a later interview. "I just called and got a Gulfstream to get over. How can they pull me out of the tournament?"

Limbaugh said one of his agents had been on the phone with Tippetts-Aylmer, and in one of those conservations she mentioned Crane being able to get to Lytham if someone with an afternoon tee time were to withdraw.

"My hunch is they took that to mean he couldn't get there for the 6:30 a.m. start," Limbaugh said. "They're good people and they have good policies. Once they made the decision to withdraw him, we even called back to say he had not withdrawn. The championship committee met again and decided Ben would have to stay off the reserve list."

Limbaugh said as he looked over flights, he's not sure Crane could have made it to Manchester -- about an hour drive from Lytham -- before 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

And if no one else withdraws on Thursday, it will be a moot point.

The Open essentially was overbooked this year because more players were exempt than officials anticipated. There were 160 players who were exempt or qualified. Mark O'Meara, Jason Day and U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson previously pulled out.

An additional tee time had been created to account for the additional player, and the Open was to begin Thursday morning with twosomes for the opening two times. Now, Garth Mulroy will move up one place and join Barry Lane and James Driscoll in the first group, while Richard Finch will move down to early afternoon and take Karlsson's spot with Branden Grace and Mark Wilson.

If there is another withdrawal, the reserve list will be activated.

Crane, who has dealt with back problems for much of his career, had to decide whether it was worth the risk of flying across eight time zones with no guarantee of a tee time.

Thompson came over needing as many as three players to withdraw, though he at least was able to play Royal Lytham & St. Annes before Thursday and prepare like the rest of the players. If he didn't get in, he said he would tour the English countryside with his wife.

Matteo Manassero of Italy, now the second alternate, was on his way.