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The 150th Open

The 150th Open


What to look out for in Round One

Tiger Woods

Everything has led to this.

59,074 days after Old Tom Morris played one of the most significant golf shots in history, The Open will take centre stage again after months of build-up and a week of celebration.

The 150th staging is finally ready and on Thursday morning Paul Lawrie - his heart pounding and his mouth dry - will follow in Morris' footsteps and in turn will be followed by 155 others, all with dreams of lifting the Claret Jug and becoming instant legends on Sunday night.

Only 87 men can claim to be a Champion Golfer, including 18 in this week’s field, but we have not had a repeat champion since Ernie Els secured his second Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St Annes a decade ago. 

That bodes well for the 137 others but the list of players hoping to win again contains a who's who of golf.

Tiger Woods is the headline act in just his third tournament since a life-threatening car crash, while Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa are among the champions bidding for another taste of glory. 

Rory McIlroy

All will know that a fast start is vital and Thursday brings plenty of storylines to keep track of, including super groups, changing weather and a married couple. 

These are just some of the storylines to look out for on Day 1.

Morikawa and McIlroy headline super group 

It doesn’t take long for The 150th Open to burst into life and whether you’re on the course or watching from home, all eyes must be on the first tee at 9.58am. 

Three of this week’s favourites will launch their 2022 Open bid in a heavyweight three-ball, with six majors and an Olympic gold medal between them. 

First up will be Collin Morikawa, the defending Champion Golfer and a player fired up to take back the Claret Jug he handed over to Chief Executive of The R&A Martin Slumbers on Monday.

The 25-year-old has one tour win since his success at Royal St George’s a year ago but recorded a top-five finish at last month’s US Open and is inspired by his first trip to the Old Course.

Hot on his tail will be Rory McIlroy, the 2014 Champion Golfer, world No.2 and perhaps the home favourite – with three top-10 major finishes this season, including second at The Masters – and then Xander Schauffele, the reigning Olympic champion and arguably the form horse after winning the Scottish Open and the Travelers Championship, his last two PGA Tour events.

Who knows what will happen. But it’s going to be fun finding out. 

Tiger on the prowl 

Just as Morikawa, McIlroy and Schauffele near the end of their rounds, Tiger Woods will begin his at just before 3pm. 

As usual, Woods has commanded much of the attention in the build-up, with players, media and spectators all desperate to see how he moves in practice. 

So far, so good. Woods has moved freely and made two birdies in the four-hole Celebration of Champions on Monday. But tournament golf is different – and Woods does not know what to expect. 

If his leg holds up, his game certainly will. He knows this links like his back garden, every contour, every mound and every line. The only part he doesn’t know is the bunkers, which he famously stayed out for 72 holes en route to winning in 2000. 

Woods is joined by Matt Fitzpatrick and Max Homa in a bumper afternoon group but could be on the wrong side of the weather, with rain in the forecast. Cats might not like the rain but after his long journey just to get here, this Tiger is ready to embrace all conditions in his quest for another Claret Jug. 

The first shot 

By the time Tiger strolls onto the first tee, Paul Lawrie will be comfortably on his sofa.

Eight-and-a-half hours earlier, at 6.35am, the 1999 Champion Golfer will strike the first shot of The 150th Open – just as he did on this course 12 years ago – and will be the first player to finish his round. 

Lawrie, who won just a few miles up the coast at Carnoustie 23 years ago, says he’s humbled by the honour – and understandably a little nervous. 

Yet with the first and 18th holes next to each other, he has a double fairway to aim at and a full grandstand cheering him on. 

Scheffler’s bid to join Faldo and Woods 

Only two men have ever won at Augusta and St Andrews in the same year: Sir Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods. 

Scottie Scheffler is hoping to add his name to that exclusive list this week - yet the world number one believes he is flying under the radar. 

In a sign of just how sharp his rise has been, this is only Scheffler’s second Open appearance. But he has already shown an aptitude for links golf, finishing eighth at Royal St George’s a year ago, and has prepared for this week by watching The Open Official Film from 2015. 

Scheffler insists he doesn’t mind being ignored but will keen to prove just why he is at the game’s summit when he tees off at 1.26pm with Joaquin Niemann and Tyrrell Hatton. 

How low can they go? 

With dry weather expected in the morning and winds relatively calm, it will be fascinating to see how the world’s best fare on the Old Course - and history would suggest birdies aplenty. 

At the last four Opens at St Andrews, the day one leader has shot at least 66, while Rory McIlroy even got round in 63 in 2010 to sit pretty at nine-under. 

McIlroy has urged caution, however, believing that the parched fairways are quicker than the greens on the eve of the Championship and predicting several players will fall foul of links golf’s quirks. 

Husband and wife begin Open summer 

From the first dance to the first tee, this has already been a summer to remember for Alex Wrigley and Johanna Gustavsson. 

Just a few weeks after they were married in May, Wrigley qualified for his first Open and quickly appointed Gustavsson as his caddie for the week. 

Alex Wrigley and Johanna Gustavsson

But after putting down Wrigley’s bag, Gustavsson will turn her attention to the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield next month, where she hopes to win her first major. 

Wrigley tees off at 12.09pm alongside Thriston Lawrence and Fabrizio Zanotti. As summers go, 2022 is going to be tough to top.  

Race for the Silver Medal 

There are six amateurs in the field this week and the race for the Silver Medal commences at 6.46am when Barclay Brown, who came through Final Qualifying at Hollinwell last month, tees off. 

Amateur Champion Aldrich Potgieter will get to learn the ropes from 2016 Champion Golfer Henrik Stenson, while the man he beat to the title in June, Sam Bairstow, is also one to watch.