The groupings at The Open Championship are one-of-a-kind. Every player goes off the first tee from 6:25 a.m. to 4:06 p.m local time. The roughly ten hour time difference creates what Matt Kuchar calls “luck of the draw here or unluck of the draw.” Weather is a huge factor in links golf, and the players who adapt to the changing conditions will be on top of the leader board on Sunday.
All eyes will be on Tiger Woods as the golfing world waits for another epic comeback. He has fallen to 7th in the World Golf Rankings because of his back injury, but the 14-time major champ will rise to no.1 sooner or later.
Woods is paired with Henrik Stenson and Angel Cabrera at 9:04 a.m. local time, which is 4:04 a.m. ET. Stenson and Woods are two of the favorites this week, and Cabrera has seen his odds rise with a win at The Greenbrier a couple weeks ago. This grouping should be a an exciting show for the people of Hoylake.
Experience is always big in the majors, and The Open emphasizes experience the most. Tom Watson, Jim Furyk, and Darren Clarke tee off at 3:26 a.m. ET. It would be a miracle if Watson found the magic in his second to last Open, but he still hits the ball exceptionally well. Clarke won The Open in 2011, so he knows how to get it done. Furyk is one of my favorite picks for every major until he wins a second one. No one picks apart a course like Furyk, and he is on the verge of a Hall of Fame career.
Right behind the experience group is a whole lot of firepower in Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, and Luke Donald. It’s time for a first-time major winner this year, and chances are the first-timer will come from this group.
The young guys group is Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Hideki Matsuyama at 4:26 a.m. ET. The early risers will be treated to one heck of a start to The Open Championship. Each one of these players can set the pace tomorrow.
Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, and Louis Oosthuizen tee off at 4:48 a.m. ET. Kuchar is poised for a major breakthrough.
Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, and Bubba Watson are headlining the afternoon wave at 2:05 p.m. local (9:05 a.m. ET). Phil and Ernie are proven Open Championship winners, and Watson is having an incredible year with wins at The Masters and the Northern Trust Open. If the weather is better in the afternoon, then watch out for this group.
My favorite to win is World no. 1 Adam Scott who goes off at 9:27 a.m. ET with Justin Rose and Jason Dufner.
My sleeper group is Kevin Streelman, Brendon Todd, and Brendon De Jonge at 7:32 a.m. ET. They aren’t underdogs, Todd won the Byron Nelson and Streelman won the Travelers, but they aren’t garnering media attention either.
Tee times are courtesy of TheOpen.com (local times):
VAN DER WALT, Dawie
CHESTERS, Ashley (A)
DEN OLESEN, Thorbjorn
NEIL, Bradley (A)
FALDO, Sir Nick
POINTS, D A
DE JONGE, Brendon
PAN, Cheng-tsung (A)
JIMENEZ, Miguel Angel
DUNNE, Paul (A)
HURLEY III, Billy