THERE ARE British Opens, British Opens in Scotland and British Opens at St. Andrews.

Then there are Open Championships (as the rest of the world calls it) celebrating 150th anniversaries.

That's what will happen this July at the home of golf. As part of the commemoration, there will be a four-hole Open Champions' Challenge on the afternoon before the start of the game's oldest major.

Twenty-eight men who lifted the claret jug a total of 48 times, from five-time winner Peter

Thomson (1954-65) to defending champion Stewart Cink, have accepted their invitations. It will be played on holes 1, 2, 17 and 18 of the Old Course, where crowds of 30,000 are expected.

The warmest reception should undoubtedly be bestowed upon three-time champ Seve Ballesteros, who won there in 1984. The Spaniard was diagnosed with a brain tumor 2 years ago, but was the first to confirm his appearance.

"I am happy and looking forward to playing," he said recently. "I think I can do very well and say thank you to all my fans at St. Andrews, where I have many great memories."

"We are very pleased that there will be such a distinguished and full field for this special occasion," said Peter Dawson, the Royal & Ancient's chief executive.

A decade ago, 22 former champs played in the Millennium Challenge at St. Andrews.

The oldest surviving winner, Kel Nagle, won't be there. Neither will Jack Nicklaus, Nick Price or Johnny Miller.

Seven four-man teams will compete in a best-ball format for a prize of 50,000 pounds, which will be donated to a charity of the winner's choice. If there's a tie, the group with the highest average age prevails.

A good date to remember

In keeping with the golf theme, it was on this day - 6 years apart - that two World Golf Hall of Famers won the LPGA Corning Classic. JoAnne Carner did it in 1984, followed by Pat Bradley in 1990.

- Mike Kern

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