There's nothing quite like the Open Championship. The history. The famous courses. The weather that often doesn't behave.
It's a special major, no doubt, and this year should offer a spectacular tournament, as some of the biggest names in the golfing world all compete for the Claret Jug.
But who are the favorites? Which players should you be watching closely? Let's find out.
When: Thursday, July 17, through Sunday, July 20
Where: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake in Merseyside, England
Field: For list of current entries, visit TheOpen.com.
We can't really start this section without discussing Tiger Woods, can we?
Of course not. The biggest name in golf will be making his first appearance at a major this season, and thus is the biggest storyline of the entire event. Woods is certainly familiar with the course, having won the 2006 Open Championship at Hoylake, so he's got that going for him.
On the other hand, he missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National in late June, so he doesn't exactly come into the Open Championship at the top of his game.
Woods saw that performance a little differently, however, as he told the Golf Channel:
Congressional was big for me. The fact I could go out there and play and I got better as the days went on. It was a little bit eerie and iffy if that was going to happen or not, especially with how hard I was hitting the ball. But I've got my speed back, which is nice, and I'm starting to hit the ball out there again. I'm only going to get stronger. As the weeks go on, I'm getting strong and faster.
Heck, even the other top contenders are talking about Woods right now, like the favorite at the Open Championship, Rory McIlroy, per the Golf Channel:
We have all witnessed what Tiger has been able to do over his career, whether that's come back from injury and win, come back from any sort of off-course stuff and win. I mean, win the U.S. Open on one leg. Is it foolish for people to write him off? I would say so. If he's playing and he's competing, he's got as good a chance as any.'
McIlroy comes into this tournament in a better place than Woods, however, having won the BMW PGA Championship in late May. Take away a terrible second-round 78 at the Scottish Open and he might have finished far higher than 14th at his most recent tournament.
As Justin Ray of the Golf Channel notes, it's those second rounds that continue to plague McIlroy:
Rory McIlroy: 3 times now he's opened tournament 64/better then 78/worse. All subsequent 3 third rounds? Shot -3.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) July 12, 2014
Rory McIlroy in official worldwide starts this season: +9 in 2nd Round. 93-under in rounds 1, 3 and 4. 102-shot difference to par.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) July 12, 2014
Who knows what happens to McIlroy on Fridays? Perhaps it is simply a mental thing. Whatever the case, his entire tournament could hinge on his showing in the second round.
Adam Scott is another player to watch out for. He ended his majors drought at the Masters last year and finished third at the Open Championship two years in a row now, so he's a serious contender. He also has a win this year and six top-10 finishes, so few players come into this tournament on the searing form that Scott has shown.
With a win and three top-10 finishes in his last three tournaments, the world No. 1 heads to Hoylake in a good place.
And then there's Phil Mickelson. The defending champion has had an up-and-down year, though he hasn't managed a single top-10 finish yet this season. Still, Mickelson has always been a bit of a streaky player, and when his game is trending upwards, he's really tough to beat.
You just get the feeling that he'll be one of the players to beat at this tournament.
Those are the big names, yes, but other players are worth a watch. Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson, among others, should all be in the running.
With the big boys all in play at this tournament, the Open Championship has to be one of the most anticipated majors in years.