Thursday marks the beginning of the 142nd British Open—golf's oldest major championship. The forecast for Gullane, Scotland's Muirfield Golf Links looks promising, which should lend itself to low scores for at least the beginning of the tournament.
The BBC reports that it will be sunny throughout the opening day of action, and thus the hard, fast conditions will reward those who can keep the ball in play and control the tricky but straightforward approach shots Muirfield offers.
Players who get overzealous, though, will pay the price for being too aggressive in trying to establish themselves as legitimate contenders.
The rough at this venue is extremely harsh and almost always leads to dropped shots. An imaginative short game for the shots around the greens is also a big plus.
Let's take a look at the coverage information for the opening round, followed by analysis and what to expect from the odds-on favorites to begin the year's third major.
Note: Statistics are courtesy of PGATour.com and EuropeanTour.com. British Open information was obtained from the official website. Tournament history can be located at the Official World Golf Ranking.
Round 1 Information
When: Thursday, July 18
Where: Muirfield Golf Links in Gullane, East Lothian, Scotland
Tee Times: First group is off at 6:32 a.m. BST (1:32 a.m. ET). For a complete list of tee times for Round 1, visit TheOpen.com.
Real-Time Leaderboard Updates: The Open
*Odds are courtesy of Bovada and are current as of 5 p.m. ET on July 17.
TV Schedule (h/t ESPN.com)
ESPN, 4 a.m.-3 p.m. ET
The Open Championship Today: 3-6 p.m. ET
Best of The Open Championship encore presentation: ESPN, 7-10 p.m. ET
Live Stream (h/t Watch ESPN, where all events are available)
|Start Time (ET)||Event|
|2:30 a.m.||The Open LIVE|
|4 a.m.||Live First Round (International View)|
|4 a.m.||Live coverage of Holes 1, 7, 8, 9 and 18|
|3 p.m.||First round encore presentation|
|7 p.m.||Best of The Open Championship encore presentation|
Analysis and Round 1 Score Projections for Top Favorites
Tiger Woods (8-1)
It's difficult to know how Woods will respond both physically and mentally at the outset of the Open.
Despite being a three-time champion in the past, he hasn't won a major in over five years and is coming off of a strained elbow that stymied his early season progress when he won four times.
The perceptibly favorable conditions may cause Woods to press too much on the first day. Even though he is among the most patient and methodical grinders in the history of the game, Woods' window for winning majors is somewhat unclear.
Considering how well he began the year, though, it's difficult to doubt him, and his odds as the clear-cut favorite reflect that.
Woods is too much of a veteran to truly hit the panic button or shoot himself out of a major on the first day, so look for him to post a solid if not spectacular round on Thursday.
Prediction: Four birdies, two bogeys and a round of two-under 69.
Phil Mickelson (14-1)
Coming off a win at the Scottish Open last week, Phil Mickelson seems geared toward knocking on the door at an event that is historically his worst in majors by far.
Lefty is one to take chances and often pull it off, but it hasn't translated well to links golf in the past. Now that he's adjusted and has a better understanding of how to navigate such courses as Muirfield, his chances of winning increase exponentially.
At 43 years old, he still hasn't lost much distance and still has a short game that's nearly second to no one. In terms of imagination and creativity on chip shots, no one is as good as Phil the Thrill.
What's been wonderful lately is his putting, which he said he's essentially figured out the secret to in a press conference ahead of the Open, though he declined to share what he'd discovered specifically, according to Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel:
A win here would put him just one leg away from completing the career Grand Slam. His missed cut at the Greenbrier Classic after yet another runner-up at the U.S. Open was an aberration in light of his victory in Inverness.
Mickelson's skill set should have netted him a Claret Jug by now, and on Thursday, he'll continue making up for lost time in that regard by putting himself near the top early on.
Prediction: Six birdies, one bogey and a round of five-under 66.
Justin Rose (18-1)
The only tournament Justin Rose has played in since playing spoiler to Mickelson's bid at a first U.S. Open trophy was the Travelers Championship the week right after, where he tied for 13th.
Just to honor the prior commitment to that event was impressive enough, but Rose showed class both in teeing it up that week and class in terms of how well he played.
Rose is now the No. 3 player in the world and has had time to unwind after the triumph at Merion. Given that he is one of the best iron players and has shown a wonderful ability to scramble this season, not much can be argued to discount him at the British Open.
As an Englishman, for Rose to win this championship would certainly mean a great deal. It would be even more special if he could pull off back-to-back majors.
The talent Rose possesses has never been in question, and now that he's finally gotten the major monkey off his back, it can only mean positive things for the remaining prime of his career.
Mother Nature seems to be putting up minimal resistance in Round 1, and as long as Rose can hole a few putts, he shouldn't be far from the lead after 18 holes.
Prediction: Four birdies, zero bogeys and a round of four-under 67.