Woods is loose following emotional British Open

The Associated Press

GRAND BLANC, Mich. – Tiger Woods smiled and joked with pro-am partner Jerome Bettis as they walked off the ninth hole.

Woods later walked across a green when he spotted a friend from junior golf, Gilberto Morales. After a warm embrace they spent the next 15 minutes catching up between shots. Woods also posed for pictures, signed autographs and did a TV interview Wednesday, the day before the start of the Buick Open.

The last time he was in the public eye, the scene was dramatically different.

He was sobbing uncontrollably in the arms of caddie Steve Williams and wife Elin two weeks ago at the British Open after winning for the first time since his father’s death in May. The touching moment was replayed on TV and captured by photographers, but Woods said he hasn’t seen it.

“I remember being in Stevie’s arms and crying like a baby and him pushing me away into my wife and just bawling there. I’ve never done that,” he said. “It was the first time I’ve been in a golf tournament without Dad, either seeing me or being around physically, where I could call him.

“Those days are over. I’ll never have that again.”

Woods said the timing of one of his regular stops – two weeks before the PGA Championship – couldn’t be better.

Vijay Singh will attempt to be the first to win three straight Buick Opens and four overall in a field that includes four of the top five players on the money list, with only Phil Mickelson missing.

Singh and Woods will be joined by Jim Furyk, U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, British Open runner-up Chris DiMarco and crowd favorite John Daly. Woods won the Buick Open in 2002 and Furyk did the next year.

Sorenstam, Webb, Wie

headline Lytham field

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak are out of their so-called slumps and winning majors again. Michelle Wie feels she’s on the brink of winning her first tournament as a pro.

The Women’s British Open begins Thursday at wind-swept Royal Lytham with a field featuring this season’s three major winners – the trio has won a combined 22 majors.

Sorenstam is going for her 11th major. That would put her even with Tiger Woods, who won his 11th major at the British Open at Royal Liverpool two weeks ago. If Sorenstam wins Sunday, she’ll reach for her cell phone and make sure Woods knows about it.

Webb’s first of three victories this year came at the opening major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Rancho Mirage. She also won last week’s Evian Masters in France and is chasing her fourth British Open and eighth major.

Pak won the LPGA Championship at the Bulle Rock course at Havre de Grace, Md., for her first victory in 14 months. Wie tied for second behind Webb at Evian. The 16-year-old star from Hawaii had four seconds and four third-place finishes in the past 18 months.