Tiger Woods will play alongside rising Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa and England’s Lee Westwood when the British Open gets underway here on Thursday.
The world number one, in search of his fourth Open title and 15th major in all, tees off at 9:09 am and with the Japanese media out in force to tail the 17-year-old Ishikawa, a massive gallery was assured.
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh has been paired with Anthony Wall and Rory Sabbatini while, Gaganjeet Bhullar will tee off with Rhys Davies and James Driscoll.
Returning to the Open after a year’s absence, three-times former winner Nick Faldo is listed as a Sir following his recent elevation and he will partner Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and Brian Gay of the United States.
Another intriguing grouping saw the 59-year-old Tom Watson, whose Duel in the Sun triumph over Jack Nicklaus in Turnberry’s first ever Open in 1977 went down in golfing history, paired with Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who became the youngest-ever winner of the British amateur title last month at just 16 and is the youngest player in The Open for over 130 years. Woods, who is without a major title to his name for the first time since 2005, was out early again on Monday to play a second practice round on a course he is tackling for the first time.
The last time the world’s oldest golfing tournament was held over the picturesque southwest Scotland links was in 1994 when Zimbabwean Nick Price finished strongly to pip Jesper Parnevik of Sweden.
That was one year before Woods’ first British Open, the 1995 tournament at St Andrews which he played as an amateur and finished in a tie for 68th place. The American completed his round by 10:00 am and voiced the opinion that Turnberry was “a lot more difficult than people are letting on.” “You’ve just got to do your homework,” he added.
Turnberry, not being long by modern standards, but deadly in the long rough for those who miss the fairway off the tee, comparisons were already being made with Hoylake, near Liverpool, in 2006 when Woods plotted his way around the course perfectly for his third Open title. On that occasion, the American used his driver only once throughout the four rounds opting to hit mainly two- and three-irons off the tee.
Turnberry though will not be as fast-running this week as Royal Liverpool was in a sun-drenched Open.
“I’ve got the driver in (his bag), but I don’t know how it’s going to be used,” said Woods.