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British Open Tee Times 2016: Pairings and Predictions for Thursday Schedule

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2016

ILE - In this June 3, 2016, file photo, Jason Day, of Australia, tees off on the 14th hole during the second round of the Memorial golf tournament in Dublin, Ohio. The British Open is scheduled for July 14–17, 2016, at Royal Troon Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland.  (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Associated Press

The 2016 Open Championship will kick off Thursday with first-round action from Royal Troon Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland, and the field features an excellent mix of established superstars and potential first-time winners.

Big names such as Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy enter the tournament with the weight of heavy expectations, and on the heels of two players having already won their first career major championships this year, that trio's major title drought could continue.

Ahead of the 145th edition of the oldest major in golf, here is a full rundown of Thursday's groups and tee times, along with predictions for how the top of the leaderboard will play out.

       

Thursday Tee Times

Thursday's 2016 British Open Groups
Time (ET)Golfer 1Golfer 2Golfer 3
1:35 a.m.Colin MontgomerieMarc LeishmanLuke Donald
1:46 a.m.Steven AlkerMarcus FraserSanghee Lee
1:57 a.m.Jeunghun WangJon RahmRyan Palmer
2:08 a.m.Sandy LyleScott GregoryDavid Duval
2:19 a.m.Richie RamsayDanny LeeHarris English
2:30 a.m.Alex NorenSteven BowditchKevin Chappell
2:41 a.m.Darren ClarkeThorbjorn OlesenJim Furyk
2:52 a.m.Justin ThomasDavid LingmerthKiradech Aphibarnrat
3:03 a.m.Branden GracePatrick ReedByeong Hun An
3:14 a.m.Paul LawrieBrandt SnedekerThognchai Jaidee
3:25 a.m.Padraig HarringtonLouis OosthuizenJamie Donaldson
3:36 a.m.Scott PiercyPaul DunneJamie Lovemark
3:47 a.m.Victor DubuissonJimmy WalkerScott Hend
4:03 a.m.Jordan SpiethJustin RoseShane Lowry
4:14 a.m.Ross FisherSteve StrickerVijay Singh
4:25 a.m.Danny WillettRickie FowlerJason Day
4:36 a.m.Rory McIlroyHideki MatsuyamaBubba Watson
4:47 a.m.Gary WoodlandJames MorrisonSoomin Lee
4:58 a.m.Smylie KaufmanChris KirkGeorge Coetzee
5:09 a.m.Billy HorschelMatthew FitzpatrickHideto Tanihara
5:20 a.m.Matteo ManasseroShugo ImahiraRussell Henley
5:31 a.m.Kodai IchiharaRobert RockWilliam McGirt
5:42 a.m.Brendan SteeleRichard SterneMatt Jones
5:53 a.m.Patton KizzireNicolas ColsaertsRod Pampling
6:04 a.m.Dave CouplandNathan HolmanPhachara Khongwatmai
6:15 a.m.Scott FernandezRikard KarlbergHaydn Porteous
6:36 a.m.Greg ChalmersKristoffer BrobergClement Sordet
6:47 a.m.David HowellSeugn Yul NohTony Finau
6:58 a.m.Jordan NiebruggeNick CullenRobert Streb
7:09 a.m.Ben CurtisStefano MazzoliJohn Daly
7:20 a.m.Francesco MolinariKevin KisnerK.T. Kim
7:31 a.m.Todd HamiltonJustin LeonardMark Calcavecchia
7:42 a.m.Soren KjeldsenLasse JensenBill Haas
7:53 a.m.Paul CaseyCharl SchwartzelKevin Na
8:04 a.m.Emiliano GrilloJuist LootenCharley Hoffman
8:15 a.m.Graeme McDowellMatt KucharAndrew Johnston
8:26 a.m.Phil MickelsonLee WestwoodErnie Els
8:37 a.m.Satoshi KodairaJames HahnAndy Sullivan
8:48 a.m.Ryan MooreBernd WiesbergerTommy Fleetwood
9:04 a.m.Dustin JohnsonMartin KaymerRussell Knox
9:15 a.m.Zach JohnsonAdam ScottHenrik Stenson
9:26 a.m.Chris WoodYusaku MiyazatoMark O'Meara
9:37 a.m.Miguel Angel JimenezJason DuffnerMarc Warren
9:48 a.m.Anirban LahiriSergio GarciaKeegan Bradley
9:59 a.m.Webb SimpsonYuta IkedaThomas Pieters
10:10 a.m.Rafael Cabrera-BelloJ.B. HolmesBrandon Stone
10:21 a.m.Marco DawsonMatthew SouthgateYosuke Tsukada
10:32 a.m.Jack SeniorJames HeathBrian Gay
10:43 a.m.Jim HermanFabian GomezAnthony Wall
10:54 a.m.Paul HowardDaniel SummerhaysColt Knost
11:05 a.m.Oskar ArvidssonHarold Varner IIITyrrell Hatton
11:16 a.m.Ryan EvansCallum ShinkwinZander Lombard
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British Open 2016 Predictions

First Place: Jason Day

One year after his best career British Open finish with a tie for fourth place, Day is in prime position to take the Claret Jug for the first time and win his second career major championship in the process.

The world's No. 1 player has enjoyed a dominant season with three wins and eight top-10 finishes, but he is still looking to add to the major haul he started in 2015 by winning the PGA Championship.

Day was within striking distance of taking the Open Championship last year, and that has added to his desire to win what is arguably golf's most prestigious major, according to Golf Channel:

Golf Channel @GolfChannel

'Coming so close at #TheOpen last year was motivation. I want my name on the claret jug with the greats.'- Jason Day https://t.co/FUSeHKWGd9

The 28-year-old Australian proved last year that he knows how to come through in the clutch on the big stage, but he is still trying to improve in that regard.

Per Sky Sports, Day is hoping to take a page out of Tiger Woods' book in reference to perhaps the most dominant run in the history of golf:

You can't win them all, and that's just the way of life. Like I've always said, we got spoiled with Tiger Woods, how he dominated and did so well. ... That's what I'm shooting for, to be able to finish off like he did back in the day. Will I ever get to a point like that? Maybe not. But that's what I'm shooting for right now.

Day seems to be in the right state of mind ahead of the Open Championship, and that could go a long way toward helping him add to his growing legacy.

He already has two top-10 finishes in majors to his credit this year, and the fact that he is almost always in the mix during big tournaments should give him an opportunity to reign supreme at Royal Troon.

    

Second Place: Jordan Spieth

Spieth has gone four consecutive majors without a victory since winning the Masters and U.S. Open last year, but signs are pointing toward the 22-year-old Texan being a top contender for his first Claret Jug this week.

He finished in a tie for fourth at last year's British Open, and while his experience on links courses is somewhat limited due to the fact that his career is just getting started, he believes his game is a perfect fit for that style of golf, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News:

I think my game in general over the course of the next, hopefully, 20 to 30 years out here will show that this style of golf plays to my strengths. Does that mean this week it may? I don't know. But I love this style of golf. I feel comfortable playing this style of golf, and I think that this tournament is one that we certainly put emphasis on.

Executing the little things often leads to the greatest success in links golf, and one can argue that nobody does that better than Spieth.

That is especially true on and around the greens, as evidenced by these stats courtesy of the PGA Tour:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Jordan Spieth's ranks this season: Back-9 scoring: 1st Putts per round: 1st Putting from 20-25 ft: 1st Birdie %: 1st https://t.co/FDsQyKyqz7

Spieth's putting is a cut above the rest, and that should ensure he is in the mix at the very least, much like he has been in five of the past six majors he has competed in.

One thing that Spieth has struggled with since his U.S. Open win last year, though, is holding the lead and closing things out in major championships.

That was especially true earlier this year at the Masters, and while Spieth figures to perform well once again, his recent late-tournament issues will prevent him from overtaking Day.

       

Third Place: Sergio Garcia

Widely regarded as the best player to never win a major, Sergio Garcia is in fine form, and Royal Troon may represent his best chance yet to end his career-long drought.

The 36-year-old Spaniard is coming off a fifth-place finish at the U.S. Open, and he previously won the AT&T Byron Nelson. As a result, he has momentum ahead of a tournament that he has enjoyed plenty of success in over the years despite never winning it.

According to Golf Channel, Garcia has regularly been within striking distance in the Open Championship over the past 15 years:

Golf Channel @GolfChannel

#NumbersToKnow: Since the turn of the century, @TheSergioGarcia's record at #TheOpen is awfully impressive. https://t.co/VuMiQrxNCS

Per Justin Ray of GolfChannel.com, he has been especially strong since 2010:

Justin Ray @JustinRayGC

Best scoring average in #TheOpen since 2010: A. Scott 70.25 @Louis57TM 70.25 @TheSergioGarcia 70.50 @RickieFowler 70.72 @DJohnsonPGA 70.75

While Garcia has a long history of falling just short in the big tournaments, his track record at the British Open suggests he will at least have a chance to hoist the Claret Jug.

With top golfers such as Day, Spieth and McIlroy having already proved capable of winning the world's top tournaments, Garcia is at somewhat of a disadvantage ahead of the Open Championship despite his solid play on links courses.

While there is every reason to believe that Garcia will be in the hunt, based on his history of near misses, he'll come up empty in his latest attempt to win a major.

    

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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