The wait is almost over...
A host of the world’s greatest golfers have descended on Royal Birkdale as excitement reaches fever pitch ahead of The 146th Open getting under way on Sunday.
• Excitement reaches fever pitch with just hours to go until The 146th Open gets under way.
• US star Dustin Johnson is favourite to become Champion Golfer of the Year for the first time.
• Local hero Tommy Fleetwood tipped to shine on the course he played on as a boy.
A host of the world’s greatest golfers have descended on Royal Birkdale as excitement reaches fever pitch ahead of The 146th Open getting under way tomorrow.
Stars including American duo Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and England’s Tommy Fleetwood all enjoyed practice rounds on the stunning links today.
The grandstands are up, the course is prepared and the waiting is almost over - and the hundreds of thousands of fans set to visit the Southport links for golf's showpiece are in for a treat.
Featuring towering dunes, challenging bunkers and the odd blustery wind, The Open is one of the ultimate tests in golf. Last time the Championship was held at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington lifted the Claret Jug in some of the most challenging conditions ever witnessed at an Open.
This time round, defending champion Henrik Stenson - who won a memorable duel with Mickelson at Royal Troon last year - will face stiff competition from US ace Johnson, who is one of the leading contenders to become Champion Golfer of the Year title.
Local hero Fleetwood will be one to watch having risen 170 places in the world rankings since last autumn. His remarkable rise has seen him claim the Abu Dhabi Championship and the Open de France titles on the way to returning to his home course.
Irish Open winner Jon Rahm and American pair Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler are also expectedto produce strong performances in the north west.
Among the Great British and Northern Irish contingent, Justin Rose - who lit up the Championship with his tied fourth-placed finish as a 17-year-old in 1998 - and Rory McIlroy, who won at Royal Liverpool in 2014 to lift the third major of his career - will both be expected to perform well on home soil.
With practice beginning tomorrow and the championship starting on Thursday, there’s still time for you to witness all the action up close for yourself, with tickets still available at TheOpen.com/Tickets