Ernie Els will not have long to wait on Thursday before beginning his defence of The Open Championship at Muirfield.
The South African will tee up at 9.11am alongside reigning US Open champion, Justin Rose, and American, Brandt Snedeker, as he bids to regain the Claret Jug on the course where he won The Open Championship in 2002. He also finished fifth on his Muirfield debut in 1992.
That is one of many attractive pairings on the first day of the 142nd Open Championship, the 16th to be staged at the Home of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers.
A large crowd will also gather to watch Sir Nick Faldo, the champion at Muirfield in both 1987 and 1992, tee up at 9.00 alongside fellow veterans, Fred Couples and Tom Watson, the five-time Open Champion, who almost turned the clock back four years ago at Turnberry, where he lost in a play-off to compatriot, Stewart Cink.
Phil Mickelson comes into The Open fresh from his victory at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open at Castle Stuart Golf Links and he goes out at 9.44 am in the company of World No. 2, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama from Japan. Reigning Amateur champion, Garrick Porteous, starts his first Major Championship at 8.22 am together with Australian, Jason Day and former USPGA champion, Martin Kaymer, while fans’ favourite, Ian Poulter, gets his Championship underway at 9.22 in the company of two Americans, Keegan Bradley and Billy Horschel.
The first afternoon is packed with equally appealing pairings. Masters champion, Adam Scott, who narrowly lost out to Els 12 months ago at Royal Lytham & St Annes, begins his bid for the Claret Jug at 2.12 pm alongside Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald. Just ahead of them, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia have been paired together at 2.01 pm while reigning BMW PGA champion, Matteo Manassero is out at 2.23 pm alongside Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan.
Elsewhere, World No. 1, Tiger Woods, will have to wait until 2.45 before he begins his bid for a 15th Major in the company of former US Open champion, Graeme McDowell, and 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen from South Africa.
The honour of hitting the first shot in this year’s Championship goes to Australian veteran, Peter Senior, who starts out at 6.32 am in the company of Scot, Lloyd Saltman and Englishman, Oliver Fisher. They are followed by 2004 Champion, Todd Hamilton, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and English amateur Ben Stow, who won the recent Local Final Qualifying event at Gullane No. 1.