British Open 2014 TV schedule: Who to watch Thursday

The British Open golf tournament takes place at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, starting Thursday. Tiger Woods is back. Check out some of the other big names and when they'll be teeing off in the first round.

Toby Melville/REUTERS
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the 16th hole during a practice round ahead of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, northern England July 16, 2014.

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.

The tournament will start with the threesome of former champion David Duval of the US, Sweden's Robert Karlsson, and David Howell of Britain teeing off at 1:25 a.m. Eastern time.

Some other interesting pairings include a trio of former British Open champs – Americans Justin Leonard and Ben Curtis, and Scotland's Paul Lawrie – getting started at 2:42 a.m. Eastern.

Two sentimental tournament favorites, former champions Tom Watson of the US and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke, along with American Jim Furyk, tee off at 3:26 a.m. Eastern.

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."

Some up-and-coming stars of the pro golf world will start their round at 4:26 a.m. Former US Open and PGA champion Rory McIlroy will be joined by Jordan Spieth of the US and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.

More former Open champions tee off at 5:10 a.m. Three-time Open champ Sir Nick Faldo is paired up with former champ Todd Hamilton of the US and Canadian David Hearn.

Current US Open and Players champion Martin Kaymer is paired with Australia's Jason Day and former Masters champion Zach Johnson of the US. This trio will tee off at 8:38 a.m.

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, beginning at 4 a.m. Eastern time Thursday.

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