Scott Hoch doesn't like the British Open - and Britons apparently don't like Scott Hoch.

Fans heckled him mercilessly when he was out on the course during the first two rounds at Royal Birkdale. They didn't get another chance to boo him in the third round Saturday: He missed the cut."I have never tried to make myself the most popular guy in the world, but I still do not believe anyone should be subjected to what I had to go through out there," said Hoch, who lives in Orlando, Fla.

Hoch played the Open only because his equipment sponsor, Yonex, forced him to. He once called hallowed St. Andrews the "worst mess I've ever seen."

And on the eve of this year's Open, he cracked, "The tradition of this tournament doesn't mean anything to me compared to the States."

The British fans didn't appreciate the comments.

"At times what they said was pretty upsetting," he said, citing examples: "Hoch, like the weather now? Hoch, we don't want you."

"It was unpleasant," he said. "It's not a football game, you know."

LOST AND FOUND: Mark O'Meara, three strokes back going into the final round, got a big break Saturday.

O'Meara hit his second shot on the 6th into tall rough and when he couldn't find it, he walked back up the fairway to hit another and take his penalty.

Moments later, a fan pointed to the ground to show he'd found it. O'Meara, thinking the five-minute limit to search for the ball had expired, told the man to pick it up and keep it.

He did. Seconds later, O'Meara's caddie indicated only three minutes had elapsed. So O'Meara returned to where the ball landed and was given a free drop under the "outside agency" rule.

The drop fell on top of the trampled grass instead of under it. He holed out with a bogey 5, saving a sure double bogey.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NICK: Three-time Open champion Nick Faldo turned 41 Saturday, but his game wasn't up to par on his birthday. He shot a 5-over 75 to go to 10 over.

"Some of the spectators tried to sing happy birthday to me, but I would have shot the cat if it sang as much out of tune as that," he said.

Faldo said 3 over might win this year's Open. "Playing in these conditions gives you some kind of perverse gratification," he said.

IT'S NO BREEZE: Winds off the Irish Sea reached a gale-force 35 mph on Saturday. The final round Sunday will be buffeted by lighter winds with a chance of light rain and temperatures around 65.

Asked if he'd played in stronger winds, England's Lee Westwood snapped: "In Iceland, and in the Scottish Open two years ago."

Westwood, who's won seven tournaments in nine months, had an 8-over 78 Saturday.

"That was almost unplayable," he said. "The only chance I have is if it blows even stronger Sunday and makes it Mickey Mouse golf with drives going 150 yards."