The 144th British Open golf tournament tees off Thursday morning at the home of golf, the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland. A total of 156 golfers, both professional and amateur, will take their shot at one of the most recognized and difficult golf courses in the world, beginning at 1:32 a.m. Eastern time Thursday (6:32 a.m. local time).
Some of the notable pairings in the first round of this year's Open include five-time former champion Tom Watson of the United States, playing with two-time former champion Ernie Els of South Africa and American Brandt Snedeker. That threesome will start at 3:33 a.m. Eastern.
At 4 a.m., American Bubba Watson, who owns two green jackets from Masters championships, will tee off with British Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter and another Masters winner, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
That threesome will be followed by a group that includes more European Ryder Cup stars. Britain's Lee Westwood and Spain's Sergio Garcia, who finished in a tie for second behind Rory McIlroy in last year's British Open, will be paired with Patrick Reed of the US.
Speaking of Mr. McIlroy, the 2014 Open champion won't be defending his title due to an ankle injury suffered playing soccer with some friends. Fellow golfer and Northern Irishman Darren Clarke, addressing a dinner audience in St Andrews Tuesday night, intimated that McIlroy might not play again the rest of this season, according to Golf.com.
Then, at 4:33 a.m. Eastern time, the golfer everyone will be watching, Jordan Spieth, tees off. The 2015 Masters and US Open champion will be paired with American Dustin Johnson, the man who had a chance to prevent Mr. Spieth from winning the US Open last month in Washington state, and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.
Spieth is halfway to modern pro golf's Grand Slam – winning the Masters, US Open, British Open, and PGA Championship, all in the same calendar year. And winning the Claret jug would be a great way to top off his trip over the Atlantic Ocean.
"It would mean the world to me to try to win this Championship and to do it here would be even more special," Spieth told the media on Wednesday, as reported by theopen.com.
Former three-time British Open champion Tiger Woods will start his first round at 4:55 a.m. Eastern. Woods, who won two of his Open titles at St Andrews, feels confident about his ball striking at the windswept seaside links course this week.
"Coming in here, being able to shape the golf ball not only both ways but also changed my trajectories, as well, and being very comfortable changing my trajectories. That's something that I feel you have to do here on this golf course," Woods told USA TODAY.com. "You have to be able to maneuver the golf ball because there's a big difference of hitting the ball low with a draw and hitting the ball low with a cut. Sometimes it can be 30 to 50 yards' difference in how the ball reacts on the ground."
Tiger will be paired with Australian Jason Day, who was also in contention in the US Open, as well as former British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.
A trio of former Open champions, all from the US – David Duval, Ben Curtis, and Stewart Cink – are paired together and will start their first round at 5:17 a.m. Thursday.
American John Daly, another past champion, is back at the Open this year. He'll be paired with Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jason Dufner of the US. This threesome will tee off at 7:50 a.m.
Later, you can see 2013 British Open champ Phil Mickelson, along with Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar of the US, playing together. This group will tee off at 9:34 a.m.
Finally, three-time Open winner Nick Faldo will be paired with American Rickie Fowler, who finished the 2014 tournament in a tie for second, and Justin Rose of Britain. They will tee off at 9:45 a.m.
ESPN will broadcast the first round of the British Open live, beginning at 4 a.m. Eastern time Thursday. You can also watch the action via live streaming on the official website of the championships, theopen.com, and WatchESPN.