Tiger Woods set for early start on return to Major action
Top Irish golfers also set for morning tee-times in first round of British Open
Tiger Woods chips onto the sixth green during a practice round ahead of the 143rd British Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Tiger Woods will not have to wait too long to make his competitive return to Hoylake in the 143rd British Open Championship, which gets under way on Thursday.
Woods, who claimed his third Claret Jug the last time the event was staged at Hoylake in 2006, will start his first round at 9:04am alongside Argentina’s Angel Cabrera and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.
After missing the first two Majors of the year following back surgery, Woods returned to action in the Quicken Loans National at the end of June, although he missed the halfway cut at Congressional.
The 14-time Major winner has not played competitively since, but completed 12 holes in practice on Saturday and a full round on Sunday and was in buoyant mood.
“I can do whatever I want. I’m at that point now,” the 38-year-old said of his recovery from surgery on March 31st. “We didn’t think we’d get to that point until this tournament or the week after.
“Before I had the procedure, I was at the point I couldn’t do anything. This is how I used to feel. I had been playing with (the back injury) for a while and I had my good weeks and bad weeks. Now they are all good.”
Double British Open champion Pádraig Harrington is in the group after Woods at 9:15am along with 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and Korea’s KJ Choi, with former world number one Rory McIlroy next out with American Jordan Spieth and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama at 9:26am.
Graeme McDowell tees off at 9:48am on Thursday alongside former champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and America’s Matt Kuchar.
Darren Clarke is the first of the Irish in action, the former champion going out with American Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson and Jim Furyk at 8:26am on the opening morning.
Michael Hoey tees it up alongside South Africa’s George Coetzee and America’s Charley Hoffman.
Irish amateur Paul Dunne is amongst the late starters in the first round and the Greystones player will have the company of Spain’s Rafael Cabrero-Bello and American Mark Wiebe when he starts at 3:11pm.
The final Irish golfer to tee it up is the in-form Shane Lowry, who goes off at 3:22pm with England’s Oliver Fisher and American Cheeson Hadley.
Phil Mickelson gets the defence of his title under way at 2:05pm in the company of 2012 winner Ernie Els and current Masters champion Bubba Watson, with Scottish Open winner Justin Rose out two groups later with world number one Adam Scott and former US PGA champion Jason Dufner.
US Open champion Martin Kaymer begins his bid for a second Major of the year at 1:38pm alongside Australian Jason Day and former Masters champion Zach Johnson.
England’s David Howell has the honour of hitting the opening tee shot at 6:25am, with 2001 champion David Duval and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson making up the first group.
The final group does not tee off until almost 10 hours later, England’s Christopher Rodgers, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and Korea’s An Byeong-hun getting their challenge under way at 4:06pm.
TEE-TIMES FOR IRISH PLAYERS
8:26am Darren Clarke, Jim Furyk (USA), Tom Watson (USA)
9:15am Pádraig Harrington, Charl Schwartzel (S Africa), KJ Choi (S Korea)
9:26am Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
9:37am Graeme McDowell, Matt Kuchar (USA), Louis Oosthuizen (S Africa)
12:21pm Michael Hoey, George Coetzee (S Africa), Charley Hoffman (USA)
3:11pm Paul Dunne (am), Rafael Cabrero-Bello (Spain), Mark Wiebe (USA)
3:22pm Shane Lowry, Oliver Fisher (England), Cheeson Hadley (USA)