The much-anticipated return of Tiger Woods at the 2014 Open Championship has the golf world in a buzz this week at Royal Liverpool. Woods will take to the first tee on Thursday morning for his first major championship in the 2014 season. Tiger has been recovering from microdisectomy and has arrived in Hoylake early to get a jump on the world-class field set to play for the Claret Jug Phil Mickelson has returned to the R&A.
Tiger Woods is seeking his 15th major championship, and has not won one since beating Rocco Mediate at the 2008 US Open in Torrey Pines. Although Phil is the defending champions this year, Tiger won the last Open Championship that was played at Royal Liverpool. He won the event here for his third, and last Claret Jug in 2006.
Phil Mickelson will be starting his defense when he tees it up on Thursday with a couple of multiple major winners in Ernie Els, and Bubba Watson. Ernie won at Royal Lytham two years ago, and Bubba won his second Green Jacket back in April. All groups tee of from the first tee with morning, and afternoon sessions.
Tiger Woods, Angel Cabrera and Henrik Stenson (9:04 a.m. local, 4:04 a.m. ET in the first round and 2:05 p.m. local, 9:05 a.m. ET in the second round):
If you want to see Tiger Woods tee it up on Thursday, you are going to need to set an early alarm clock. The three-time Open Champ will be teeing it up with two-time major champ, Angel Cabrera and 2013 FedEx Cup, and Race To Dubai champion, Henrik Stenson. Cabrera put a nice weekend together tow weeks ago, and won his first non-major on the PGA Tour at the Greenbrier Classic. After a slow start for the 2014 season, Stenson has started to play well of late, and finished in second place at Muirfield last July.
Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker (9:37 a.m. local time, 4:37 a.m. ET in the first round and 2:38 p.m. local time, 9:38 a.m. ET in the second):
Three top players with not a major between the bunch, but a good preview for the 2014 Ryder Cup. You know Jimmy Walker will be there along with Dustin Johnson, and you have to think Paul McGinley can’t go to Gleneagles without Ian Poulter…right? Dustin Johnson has been within sight of two major championships, both coming in 2012, but still needs one to validate a pretty good career. Both Poulter and Johnson are Open Champ runner-up, and Jimmy Walker has three victories on the PGA Tour this year.
Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth (9:26 a.m. local time, 4:26 a.m. ET in the first round and 2:27 p.m. local time, 9:27 a.m. ET in the second):
This group features the youth on both tours, with Rory McIlroy at 24 years old being the elder statesman here, and the owner of two major titles. Matsuyama and Spieth both have wins on the PGA Tour and looking to add a major soon. Spieth hasn’t won on tour for a year, but has seven top ten’s in 2014. It’s just a matter of time before all of these kids will have a mantle-full of major championships. McIlroy and Spieth have had moments of brilliance all year, but both are suffering from putter woes.
Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia (8:37 a.m. local, 3:37 a.m. ET in the first round, 1:38 p.m. local, 8:38 a.m. ET in the second round):
Three golfer, all looking for that first major championship, and two of them with the sand running out of the hour-glass. Sergio will be playing with Tiger in the field, we can all hope both make the cut, and get paired sometime on the weekend, but if the Spaniard can work out problems with his putter, can be competitive here. I’m really anxious to see how Rickie Fowler does here with his new-found power. He is the only one in the group with top five finishes at both 2014 majors. Sergio has seven top 10′s in 17 Open Starts.
Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner (2:27 p.m. local time, 9:27 a.m. ET in the first round and 9:26 a.m. local time, 4:26 a.m. ET in the second round):
This is without doubt, the most interesting pairing(sorry Tiger fans). Adam Scott handed Ernie Els the Claret Jug two years ago, and the way Justin Rose has played in his last two starts is something special. Oh yeah…he won bot starts at Congressional three weeks ago, and was playing pretty solid in Scotland yesterday. All three have major championships on their resume, just not here.