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Youth in search of golf's oldest championship

TURNBERRY, Scotland - British bookmakers have listed Rory McIlroy as the third favorite at Turnberry, unusual for someone playing in his first British Open as a pro.

Stranger still is that he doesn't seem fazed, perhaps because his age (20) matches the odds (20-1).

One reason he is getting so much attention, beyond the talent that allowed him to win the Dubai Desert Classic this year and rise to No. 22 in the world ranking, is the constant search for someone to challenge Tiger Woods.

Even at golf's oldest championship, the focus turns to youth.

McIlroy will be playing the first two rounds with 24-year-old Anthony Kim, who is No. 15 in the world and an explosive talent. Martin Kaymer, the 24-year-old German, is coming off consecutive victories on the European Tour and can became the first player since Seve Ballesteros in 1986 to make it three in a row.

Among the 'older set' are 29-year-old Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott, who turns 29 today.

So far, it has been a hopeless pursuit.

Woods set an obscure PGA Tour record two weeks ago when he won his AT&T National at Congressional for his 53rd victory this decade, topping the previous record of Ben Hogan, who won 52 times in the 1940s.

But Woods is 0-for-2 in the majors this year since returning from knee surgery, both times giving himself a chance on Sunday, both times finishing in a tie for sixth.

'He's not just another player,' McIlroy said. 'I remember when I first came out and I talked to Tiger, and I was even nervous talking to him. He just has some sort of aura about him, you know?'

One thing McIlroy has in his favor is having never faced Woods.

Kim played with him for the first time at Congressional in the final group, tied for the lead, hit one bad stretch of bogeys and pars and wound up chasing him the rest of the day.

Garcia might have won a few majors by now except for Woods.

It was 10 years ago when he first challenged Woods in the PGA Championship at Medinah, finishing one shot behind. They played in the final group at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and the 2006 British Open at Hoylake, both won easily by Woods.