The 143rd British Open golf championship tees off very early Thursday morning, at least for television viewers in the United States. American Phil Mickelson returns to defend his title from a year ago, along with 14 other former champions and 156 competitors overall, at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
Tiger Woods makes his return to major competitive golf this weekend at the British Open, his first major this season following back surgery. The three-time British Open champion tees off at 4:04 a.m. Eastern, playing with Argentina's Angel Cabrera and Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
Woods has not won a British Open since 2006 and his last majors win was in 2008. But his confidence is not flagging. He was asked during Tuesday's news conference, "Given your limited preparation coming in here, what would be an acceptable finish for you this weekend?"
Woods replied: "First."
Another group of championship-caliber players will tee off at 9:05 a.m. Defending champion Phil Mickelson will play with former two-time Open winner Ernie Els and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson.
Finally, 1995 British Open champion John Daly of the US, he of the colorful golf outfits (or "kit," as the British would call it), tees off at 10 a.m. Eastern time with Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Ross Fisher.
The British Open will be televised in the US on ESPN and WatchESPN.com, beginning at 4 a.m. Eastern time Thursday.