McIlroy looks for another fast start this year
While most people in the US will be sleeping, the 140th edition of the British Open will get underway. At 6:30am Sandwich time (1:30am EST), Jerry Kelly will tee off and officially get The Open started.
There are 52 threesomes that will be teeing off from 6:30 am through 4:11 pm at Royal St George’s. Early birds may get off to a rough start if the BBC Weather prediction holds up.
It calls for Grey cloud with heavy rain forecast for 4:00am. Early bird starters may get some extra sleep. Let’s take a look at the notables and their tee times.
8:31 am ‑ Nick Watney, Matteo Manassero, Angel Cabrera
The American I think has the best chance to win, Nick Watney, starts off early his bid for his first major fresh off his AT&T win. Look for him to get off to a good start and be near the leaderboard early.
He is paired with 29th ranked Italian Manassero who won in Malaysia earlier in the year and the Argentine Cabrera who is a two-time major champ and comes from a third-place finish at the Scottish Open.
9:09 am – Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler
Who has the best chance to Lead after Day 1
Mid-morning brings us the threesome with an intriguing mix of youth and experience. Young guns and good friends McIlroy and Fowler, with three-time major Champ Els who won The Open in 2002.
It’s a contrast of styles and stories. McIlroy is coming off his record-breaking win at the US Open and looks to add a second here in The Open. Last year he led after Round 1 only to fall off on Day 2. Look for him to be aggressive early and challenge for the lead.
Fowler shares many similarities to McIlroy, except his success. He is looking to finally breakthrough at a tournament. He is ranked 52nd in the world and will surely try to emulate McIlroy all the way in Round 1.
Meanwhile, Els has double the experience of both McIlroy and Fowler combined, and has enjoyed great success at this course and will play the links the right way. It will be fun to watch as we experience complete opposites of the playing spectrum.
9:20 am ‑ Luke Donald, Ryo Ishikawa, Sergio Garcia
Here is another threesome where we will be able to also see a mix of elements from the field and off. Three very different cultures—English, Japanese and Spanish—and styles of play in one threesome.
No. 1 player in the world Donald—fresh off his victory at the Scottish Open, which solidified his top player status—is looking for his first major. Many point to him as the winner here.
Garcia has historically been good at The Open, and did relatively well in 2003 at Royal St George's. He carries some momentum after finishing second at the BMW International.
Ishikawa is currently ranked 50th in the world, but has yet to enjoy the international success he enjoys at his home in Japan. He is in a difficult pairing with two players with more experience who know how to work this course.
1:43 pm ‑ Graeme McDowell, Jason Day, Bubba Watson
This is where we ask ourselves, what to expect? Day has been the bridesmaid in the two majors this year. One could only argue this is the one. He has the game, the mind and the ability to do it.
But starting right off the beginning of the afternoon is tough and a very bad start can only mean he could be playing for second…again.
He is paired with Bubba Watson, who has missed the cut in his only two British Open starts, and is not carrying much momentum here; and McDowell, who has not been at his best lately and needs to regress to his early year form to contend.
1:21 pm ‑ Bryden MacPherson, Matt Kuchar and Padraig Harrington
The British amateur champ Bryden MacPherson will join two-time Open champ Harrington and top American player Matt Kuchar for this pairing.
Kuchar has not played since the US Open and has been playing very well with eight top-10 finishes in the last 16 tournaments.
Harrington, while he has not been the same player he was when he won the Open, cannot be discarded based on his style of play on this course. MacPherson is along for the ride, and should learn a trick or two here.
2:10 pm ‑ Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker, Charl Schwartzel
This is the strongest threesome by far. No. 2 in the world Westwood and No. 5 Stricker are both looking for their first major and playing outstanding. Schwartzel won his first one at The Masters earlier this year.
Stricker won the John Deere last week and had won the Memorial prior to his T19 at the US Open. Westwood won the Ballantine and the Indonesian this year, while Schwartzel has climbed up to No. 11 in the world.
Definitely a superb shot-making threesome worth watching. They will be pushing each other with their play to get even better.
2:21 pm ‑ Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson
The threesome of Major champs. Last year's Open champ Oosthuizen, PGA champ Kaymer and two-time Major winner Mickelson. This is another threesome where the shot-making will be off the charts.
All three players can push the envelope when needed and may need to do so as they play in the punishing afternoon.
Oosthuizen is looking to prove that he was no one-time fluke. He won at St Andrew's; he should be able to show that experience here. Kaymer also looking to prove he can win another and has been playing well.
Lefty is just looking to show up at a tournament that has never been good to him. At least the group he is paired with should bring his level up, and this maybe just what fires him up to perform well.
Thomas Bjorn will come back looking for redemption at the site of his major collapse. He made the field after Vijay Singh withdrew. He is paired with Simon Dyson and Gary Woodland and they tee off at 7:25 am.
At 8:58 am we get an early view of surprising 2003 Open Championship winner here at Royal St George’s, Ben Curtis. He is paired with Paul Casey and Aaron Baddeley, whose caddie was with Ben Curtis when he won The Open.
Also among the early players will be K.J. Choi and Geoff Ogilvy. Choi will start at 7:47 am and Ogilvy will be two groups later alongside Miguel Angel Jimenez and Peter Uihlein at 8:09am.
Five-time British Open winner Tom Watson will be in the threesome after Oosthuizen with Henrik Stenson and amateur Tom Lewis at 2:32 pm.
Scott Jamieson and Kyle Stanley were the last two players in the field. Jamieson will start at 11:53 a.m and Stanley will be in the following group
For a full Open pairings and tee times list go here.