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 1||Golfer 2||Golfer 3|
|1:35 a.m.||Colin Montgomerie||Marc Leishman||Luke Donald|
|1:46 a.m.||Steven Alker||Marcus Fraser||Sanghee Lee|
|1:57 a.m.||Jeunghun Wang||Jon Rahm||Ryan Palmer|
|2:08 a.m.||Sandy Lyle||Scott Gregory||David Duval|
|2:19 a.m.||Richie Ramsay||Danny Lee||Harris English|
|2:30 a.m.||Alex Noren||Steven Bowditch||Kevin Chappell|
|2:41 a.m.||Darren Clarke||Thorbjorn Olesen||Jim Furyk|
|2:52 a.m.||Justin Thomas||David Lingmerth||Kiradech Aphibarnrat|
|3:03 a.m.||Branden Grace||Patrick Reed||Byeong Hun An|
|3:14 a.m.||Paul Lawrie||Brandt Snedeker||Thognchai Jaidee|
|3:25 a.m.||Padraig Harrington||Louis Oosthuizen||Jamie Donaldson|
|3:36 a.m.||Scott Piercy||Paul Dunne||Jamie Lovemark|
|3:47 a.m.||Victor Dubuisson||Jimmy Walker||Scott Hend|
|4:03 a.m.||Jordan Spieth||Justin Rose||Shane Lowry|
|4:14 a.m.||Ross Fisher||Steve Stricker||Vijay Singh|
|4:25 a.m.||Danny Willett||Rickie Fowler||Jason Day|
|4:36 a.m.||Rory McIlroy||Hideki Matsuyama||Bubba Watson|
|4:47 a.m.||Gary Woodland||James Morrison||Soomin Lee|
|4:58 a.m.||Smylie Kaufman||Chris Kirk||George Coetzee|
|5:09 a.m.||Billy Horschel||Matthew Fitzpatrick||Hideto Tanihara|
|5:20 a.m.||Matteo Manassero||Shugo Imahira||Russell Henley|
|5:31 a.m.||Kodai Ichihara||Robert Rock||William McGirt|
|5:42 a.m.||Brendan Steele||Richard Sterne||Matt Jones|
|5:53 a.m.||Patton Kizzire||Nicolas Colsaerts||Rod Pampling|
|6:04 a.m.||Dave Coupland||Nathan Holman||Phachara Khongwatmai|
|6:15 a.m.||Scott Fernandez||Rikard Karlberg||Haydn Porteous|
|6:36 a.m.||Greg Chalmers||Kristoffer Broberg||Clement Sordet|
|6:47 a.m.||David Howell||Seugn Yul Noh||Tony Finau|
|6:58 a.m.||Jordan Niebrugge||Nick Cullen||Robert Streb|
|7:09 a.m.||Ben Curtis||Stefano Mazzoli||John Daly|
|7:20 a.m.||Francesco Molinari||Kevin Kisner||K.T. Kim|
|7:31 a.m.||Todd Hamilton||Justin Leonard||Mark Calcavecchia|
|7:42 a.m.||Soren Kjeldsen||Lasse Jensen||Bill Haas|
|7:53 a.m.||Paul Casey||Charl Schwartzel||Kevin Na|
|8:04 a.m.||Emiliano Grillo||Juist Looten||Charley Hoffman|
|8:15 a.m.||Graeme McDowell||Matt Kuchar||Andrew Johnston|
|8:26 a.m.||Phil Mickelson||Lee Westwood||Ernie Els|
|8:37 a.m.||Satoshi Kodaira||James Hahn||Andy Sullivan|
|8:48 a.m.||Ryan Moore||Bernd Wiesberger||Tommy Fleetwood|
|9:04 a.m.||Dustin Johnson||Martin Kaymer||Russell Knox|
|9:15 a.m.||Zach Johnson||Adam Scott||Henrik Stenson|
|9:26 a.m.||Chris Wood||Yusaku Miyazato||Mark O'Meara|
|9:37 a.m.||Miguel Angel Jimenez||Jason Duffner||Marc Warren|
|9:48 a.m.||Anirban Lahiri||Sergio Garcia||Keegan Bradley|
|9:59 a.m.||Webb Simpson||Yuta Ikeda||Thomas Pieters|
|10:10 a.m.||Rafael Cabrera-Bello||J.B. Holmes||Brandon Stone|
|10:21 a.m.||Marco Dawson||Matthew Southgate||Yosuke Tsukada|
|10:32 a.m.||Jack Senior||James Heath||Brian Gay|
|10:43 a.m.||Jim Herman||Fabian Gomez||Anthony Wall|
|10:54 a.m.||Paul Howard||Daniel Summerhays||Colt Knost|
|11:05 a.m.||Oskar Arvidsson||Harold Varner III||Tyrrell Hatton|
|11:16 a.m.||Ryan Evans||Callum Shinkwin||Zander Lombard|
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:
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.
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:
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:
Per Justin Ray of GolfChannel.com, he has been especially strong since 2010:
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.
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