Tiger Woods wasn’t born when Sandy Lyle made his Open debut in 1974 but both will have a starring first-round role at Carnoustie this year.
Lyle, the Champion Golfer at Sandwich in 1985, was just 16 when he first contested the Claret Jug and this will be his 43rd appearance — just three short of the record held by Gary Player.
He will get proceedings underway in the first group on Thursday, teeing up alongside Germany’s Martin Kaymer and England’s Andy Sullivan at 6.35am local time.
And he’ll be long back in the clubhouse when three-time Champion Golfer Woods returns to Open action for the first time since 2015.
Woods, competing at his 20th Open, finished in a tie for seventh at Carnoustie in 1999 and joint 12th eight years later. And it’s 23 years since his first round, as an amateur at the Scottish Open in 1995.
He will play alongside Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Scotland’s Russell Knox, winner of the recent Irish Open, in a group that gets under way at 3.21pm.
“It has been a while and I’ve certainly missed it,” said Woods. “This is the oldest tournament we have in our sport. I’ve got my name on the trophy a few times so that’s pretty cool. To come out here and play in the Open is always good.
“Carnoustie is special. This is my fourth time playing it as a tournament. From my first time coming here as an amateur to being back now, it’s just amazing how this course doesn’t change. “It is right in front of you and it is hard. It’s probably the most difficult one we play in the whole rotation.”
Champion Golfer Jordan Spieth returned the Claret Jug on Monday and will start his campaign to get it back at 9.58am, alongside world number three Justin Rose and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
They’ll be followed at 10.09am by another all-star group as Spain’s Jon Rahm, American Rickie Fowler and England’s Chris Wood get their campaigns underway.
Masters champion Patrick Reed and 2010 Champion Golfer Louis Oosthuizen will be off at 10.20am with England’s Paul Casey, whose best Open finish is a joint third behind Oosthuizen eight years ago at St Andrews.
Henrik Stenson, Champion Golfer two years ago, and Tommy Fleetwood – who shot a course record 63 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championships here last October – will set off at 12.31pm, alongside American Jimmy Walker.
Fleetwood finished in a tie for 27th on his home course at Royal Birkdale last year but last season’s European Tour money-winner is now established in the world’s top ten, having just missed out at the recent US Open.
Rory McIlroy, the Champion Golfer in 2014, was first out on course during Monday’s practice but will have to wait until 12.53pm to tee-off with Australia’s Marc Leishman and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, the winner of the Italian Open earlier this year. World number one Dustin Johnson arrived in Carnoustie on Sunday and went straight to the range and he’ll be joined in the 1.04pm group by Swedish French Open champion Alex Noren and American Charley Hoffman.
World number two Justin Thomas, who practised with Woods on Monday, will play with Francesco Molinari, in confident mood following his career best win at the European PGA Championship at Wentworth and first PGA Tour title earlier this month.
Completing their three-ball at 1.26pm is South Africa’s Branden Grace, perhaps looking to repeat his third-round 62 from Royal Birkdale last year, the lowest round in a men’s major. Anyone with a spot on the first hole just before 3pm on Thursday is also in for a treat.
Two-time Champion Golfer Padraig Harrington won the Claret Jug the last time The Open visited these links 11 years ago and will play alongside fellow major champion Bubba Watson and England’s Matt Wallace. Harrington is certainly hoping the weather stays good, though he did belt a 457-yard drive straight into the famous burn on the 18th while practising with Brandt Snedeker on Saturday.
That group will be the 44th in action at 2.48pm followed 11 minutes later – not a second before, not a second after – by US Open champion Brooks Koepka, England’s Ian Poulter and Australia’s Cameron Wallace.
Sergio Garcia lost in a play-off to Harrington at Carnoustie in 2007 and last year’s Masters champion certainly looked happy to be back as he laughed and joked during his practice round on Monday.
At 3.10pm he will be alongside American rising star Bryson DeChambeau, who withdrew from last week’s PGA Tour event with a shoulder injury and Shubhankar Sharma, the Indian golfer with two European Tour wins this season. And then all eyes will be on the next group and a certain Mr Woods.