Royal St George’s plays host to the 149th British Open from Thursday, a year later than planned after the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancellation of last year’s event. Here’s a look at three groups to watch during the first round.
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08:25 Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau, Branden Grace
DeChambeau will be hoping to do his talking on the course as his ongoing public spat with compatriot Brooks Koepka rumbled on this week.
The world number six’s physical transformation to add distance off the tee may not be so vital on the undulating links of Royal St George’s where finding the fairway is the priority.
“If you hit it in the rough, in the hay, it’s not easy to get out of,” said DeChambeau,admitting he may have to take irons off the tee.
Spieth, who won the Open in 2017, is finding his form again with victory at the Texas Open in April his first for four years.
He also has two other top-10 finishes at the British Open in his last five appearances.
Playing with South African Grace may prove to be third time lucky for the two Americans.
The past two Open champions, Shane Lowry and Francesco Molinari played with Grace in their opening two rounds.
08:58 Shane Lowry, Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen
Defending champion Lowry tees off with the pre-tournament favourite in Rahm, fresh from winning his first major at last month’s US Open.
The Spaniard lost his place as world number one despite finishing seventh at last week’s Scottish Open, but is the form player in the world with 11 top-10 finishes in his last 15 tournaments.
Lowry has not won since lifting the Claret Jug at Portrush two years ago.
The Irishman, though, hopes that the need for players to remain in bubbles with their teams will mean he can concentrate on getting his game right on the course.
“I reckon if it was a normal Open and I was defending I might have a couple more things to do, so it probably is working in my favour a little bit as regards my performance,” he said.
Oosthuizen is also a former Open champion after romping to victory at St. Andrews in 2010.
That remains the South African’s only major victory, but he has finished second in each of the last two majors at the US PGA and US Open.
09:20 Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Will Zalatoris
World number one Johnson has failed to replicate his stunning end to 2020, which saw him crowned Masters champion, so far this year.
However, his best showing at a British Open came at Royal St. George’s 10 years ago when he finished second to Darren Clarke.
Rose’s career took off after he finished fourth at the Open as an amateur in 1998, but he has gone better than that only once since: second to Molinari three years ago.
In contrast to his playing partners’ experience, Zalatoris has only played in five previous majors, but has finished in the top 10 in three of them.
He confirmed his status as a star of the future with second place at the Masters earlier this year.
©️ Agence France-Presse