Rory McIlroy can end the opening day top of the leaderboard at the 2018 British Open on Thursday. McIlroy's comfort in this tournament and on its type of courses will prove decisive at Carnoustie in Angus, Scotland.
By contrast, Justin Thomas won't be able to escape recent failings at The Open when he takes to the course in a pairing with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
Thomas will struggle, but Tiger Woods can remind viewers why his thoughtful and patient style is useful for links golf.
Here are the tee times and pairings for the opening day (times are BST then ET):
- 6:35 a.m/1:35 a.m.: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sullivan
- 6:46 a.m./1:46 a.m.: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate
- 6:57 a.m./1:57 a.m.: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List
- 7:08 a.m./2:08 a.m.: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Norris
- 7:19 a.m./2:19 a.m.: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell
- 7:30 a.m./2:30 a.m.: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook
- 7:41 a.m./2:41 a.m.: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry
- 7:52 a.m./2:52 a.m.: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult
- 8:03 a.m./3:03 a.m.: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello
- 8:14 a.m./3:14 a.m.: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry
- 8:25 a.m./3:25 a.m.: Si-Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)
- 8:36 a.m./3:36 a.m.: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara
- 8:47 a.m./3:47 a.m.: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang
- 9:03 a.m./4:03 a.m.: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley
- 9:14 a.m./4:14 a.m.: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee
- 9:25 a.m./4:25 a.m.: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na
- 9:36 a.m./4:36 a.m.: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen
- 9:47 a.m./4:47 a.m.: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein
- 9:58 a.m./4:58 a.m.: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat
- 10:09 a.m./5:09 a.m.: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood
- 10:20 a.m./5:20 a.m.: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed
- 10:31 a.m./5:31 a.m.: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas
- 10:42 a.m./5:42 a.m.: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park
- 10:53 a.m./5:53 a.m.: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard
- 11:04 a.m./6:04 a.m.: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage
- 11:15 a.m./6:15 a.m.: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner
- 11:36 a.m./6:36 a.m.: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis
- 11:47 a.m./6:47 a.m.: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III
- 11:58 a.m./6:58 a.m.: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis
- 12:09 p.m./7:09 a.m.: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An
- 12:20 p.m./7:20 a.m.: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood
- 12:31 p.m./7:31 a.m.: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker
- 12:42 p.m./7:42 a.m.: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)
- 12:53 p.m./7:53 a.m.: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen
- 1:04 p.m./8:04 a.m.: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman
- 1:15 p.m./8:15 a.m.: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele
- 1:26 p.m./8:26 a.m.: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace
- 1:37 p.m./8:37 a.m.: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li
- 1:48 p.m/8:48 a.m.: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo
- 2:04 p.m./9:04 a.m.: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim
- 2:15 p.m./9:15 a.m.: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp
- 2:26 p.m./9:26 a.m.: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest
- 2:37 p.m./9:37 a.m.: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak
- 2:48 p.m./9:48 a.m.: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace
- 2:59 p.m./9:59 a.m.: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka
- 3:10 p.m./10:10 a.m.: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma
- 3:21 p.m./10:21 a.m.: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox
- 3:32 p.m./10:32 a.m.: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley
- 3:43 p.m./10:43 a.m.: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ancer, Masahiro Kawamura
- 3:54 p.m./10:54 a.m.: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith
- 4:05 p.m./11:05 a.m.: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior
- 4:16 p.m./11:16 a.m.: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon
Woods to be Under Par After Day 1
Woods has what it takes to make a fast start and finish the opening day under par. The 42-year-old will benefit from power and distance not being essential qualities at Carnoustie.
Instead, Woods has the subtle range of shots to traverse the narrow and hard fairways in Scotland. Once he makes the greens, the man who has won the Open three times can lean on his enviable technique with the putter to complete most of the holes on both nines with a shot or two to spare.
As one of the final six pairings to start their round on the opening day, along with Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox, Woods can make an early statement of intent about his ability to win a first major since 2008.
Knowing how to navigate a links course will stand Woods in good stead on the first day. Don't expect him to lead, but he will at least finish one-under.
Justin Thomas to Struggle
Recent history says Thomas will endure a rough first day at the Open. The 25-year-old tied for 53rd place in 2016 before shooting a "quintuple-bogey nine on the par-four sixth hole in the second round," per Jay Coffin of NBC's Golf Channel.
He is the world No. 2 for a reason, but Thomas' talent isn't enough to mask the fact he's entering this tournament in something of a slump. Recent events haven't been kind to Thomas, who finished tied for 21st at Quail Hollow back in May, before ending the Players Championship seven shots off the winner.
Thomas was even more adrift at the U.S. Open, ending in a tie for 25th at Shinnecock Hills.
No matter how confident he is in his game on the links, Thomas has a lot of negative recent history to overcome if he's going to make an impact this year. He's more likely to wind up below par once the opening round has come to an end.
Rory McIlroy to be Early Leader
While Thomas won't shine, McIlroy can set the early pace in his pairing with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen. He is still erratic, but he usually finds his composure for The Open.
McIlroy finished five-under and tied in fourth last year after being four-under and tied for fifth with Sergio Garcia and Tyrrell Hatton in 2016. Those tournaments showed how McIlroy has a solid track record on links courses, so he won't be intimidated by the challenges posed at Carnoustie.
Consistency will be the key for McIlroy, who has "finished inside the top 10 in every Masters and Open in which he's played" after 2014, per Adam Silverstein of CBS Sports. This type of steady success offers proof McIlroy won't make many mistakes in Angus.
The 29-year-old can avoid bogeys on a tricky course and put enough pars on his card to finish the first day as the initial leader.