The winners of the last three British Opens at St. Andrews will play together for the first two days this week in Scotland. Tiger Woods, who won at this venue in 2000 and 2005, will tee it up again with Louis Oosthuizen, who cruised to that runaway Open title at the Old Course in 2010. The third member of their group will be Jason Day, the Aussie who contended all the way to Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Open with vertigo.
This is a comfortable pairing for Woods, whose game got a boost with a significantly improved performance at the Greenbrier Classic two weeks ago. He's friends with Day and he also just played, albeit terribly, with the low-key Oosthuizen at Chambers Bay. There's no real drama here and each player is friendly with Tiger.
The Open is one of those events where the draw can have an inordinate impact on your success. The weather, especially at St. Andrews, can turn quickly and an entirely new course can pop up for either the morning or afternoon wave on the tee sheet. A player is often eliminated just by virtue of their spot on the tee sheet for the first two rounds, while the contenders can all come from the same cluster.
Tiger will go out in the morning on Thursday (9:55 a.m. local / 4:55 a.m. ET) and then head out in one of the final groups of the afternoon on Friday (2:56 p.m. local / 9:56 a.m. ET).
Jordan Spieth will continue his chase at a Grand Slam season alongside one of the people who made it possible at Chambers Bay, Dustin Johnson. Spieth is the favorite this week but DJ is the oddsmakers' second choice at 12/1, and his power off the tee could carry him to a couple low-60s rounds and right back to the top of a major championship leaderboard. It's likely he is back in the mix on Sunday.
Hideki Matsuyama, the 23-year-old Japanese phenom, will be the third member of their group. Spieth is on the same side of the draw as Tiger, playing just two groups ahead at the Old Course.
The weather is one Open quirk that impacts the tee sheet. The daylight this time of year in Scotland is another. Unlike the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, which also have full 156-man fields, the British does not need to send groups of three off split tees. Instead, everyone plays the links-style course the way it was intended, going off No. 1. The daylight allows for tee times from 6:30 a.m. well past 4 p.m. and that even provides extra cushion. So everyone will have their name called on the first tee by iconic starter Ivor Robson.
Aside from Tiger and Spieth, there are obviously marquee groups that line the entire tee sheet. Rickie Fowler, another American among the favorites, will try to back up Sunday's Scottish Open title and starts his week with Englishmen Nick Faldo and Justin Rose. Phil Mickelson will be just a group ahead of them with Matt Kuchar and Henrik Stenson. Those two tee times are opposite the Spieth-Tiger side of the draw, so they will get all the love from the TV cameras when they're out on the course.
While those are some of the contenders' tee times, the most enjoyable one may be the trio of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jason Dufner and John Daly, the 1995 winner at St. Andrews. Those three are fan favorites anywhere they play and grouping them together is a gift from the R&A to all of us.
Here are more marquee groups and tee times (all times ET):
|Tee Times||2015 Open Championship|
|3:33 a.m.||8:34 a.m.||Tom Watson||Ernie Els||Brandt Snedeker|
|4 a.m.||9:01 a.m.||Bubba Watson||Ian Poulter||Charl Schwartzel|
|4:11 a.m.||9:12 a.m.||Sergio Garcia||Patrick Reed||Lee Westwood|
|4:33 a.m.||9:34 a.m.||Jordan Spieth||Dustin Johnson||Hideki Matsuyama|
|4:55 a.m.||9:56 a.m.||Tiger Woods||Louis Oosthuizen||Jason Day|
|7:50 a.m.||2:49 a.m.||John Daly||Miguel Angel Jimenez||Jason Dufner|
|9:12 a.m.||4:11 a.m.||Adam Scott||Jimmy Walker||Martin Kaymer|
|9:34 a.m.||4:33 a.m.||Phil Mickelson||Henrik Stenson||Matt Kuchar|
|9:45 a.m.||4:44 a.m.||Rickie Fowler||Justin Rose||Nick Faldo|
You can view the full tee sheet here.
SB Nation video archives: Urban golfing with a U.S. Open champ (2012)