It's major time again and we're getting excited here at Hole19 HQ. To help build up to what promises to be a great 147th Open Championship, we thought it would be apt to pull together a tournament preview along with selected first round tee-times all in one place (because we're helpful sorts).
The third major championship of 2018 takes place this week upon the fairways of Carnoustie Golf Links and the world's best golfers will arrive in Angus, Scotland hoping to get their hands on the Claret Jug and its accompanying title of 'Champion Golfer of the Year'.
So then, here's our take on this week's Open Championship...
Course: Carnoustie Golf Links (Angus, Scotland)
Length: 7,398 yds
Carnoustie is about as exacting a test as you will find on The Open rota. Widely believed to be the hardest of the courses which play host to the season's third major, it will test every facet of a golfer's game - and then some.
It's a golf course which demands length, accuracy, intelligence, steely nerve and golfing stamina all in abundance. Whoever holds the Claret Jug aloft come Sunday evening will have undoubtedly earned it.
Defending Champion: Jordan Spieth
Last year at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England the young Texan Jordan Spieth survived a 13th hole horror show during his final round to secure a first Claret Jug and, with it, the third leg of his own career grand slam.
Watch how the drama unfolded in real time during last year's tournament...
It's been a little more of a struggle this year for Spieth, not least for the fact that his usual red-hot putting has fallen rather flat in recent months. With that said, there's no better place to recapture your form than at an Open Championship.
The declared field is as strong as we would expect for any major championship and of the top-10 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Tommy Fleetwood go in search of their maiden major title.
World number one Dustin Johnson is coming off a third place at Shinnecock Hills and a victory at the St Jude Classic the week previous. He arrives in Scotland primed to go close once again and it would be foolish to write DJ off.
U.S. Open Champion Brooks Koepka has shrugged off a previous wrist injury and was back to his best last month to not only take a second major title, but to also break into the top five in the OWGR.
Here's the trophy presentation from Koepka's back-to-back win from last month...
Of the other main players, Rory McIlroy could burst into life at any moment and take a field apart while it seems only a matter of time before Justin Thomas joins his good friend Spieth in becoming a multiple major winner.
0741 Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay (USA), Shane Lowry
0803 Phil Mickelson (USA), Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp)
0958 Jordan Spieth (USA), Justin Rose (Eng), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)
1009 Jon Rahm (Esp), Rickie Fowler (USA), Chris Wood (Eng)
1231 Henrik Stenson (Swe), Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker (USA)
1253 Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman (Aus), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den)
1304 Dustin Johnson (USA), Alex Noren (Swe), Charley Hoffman (USA)
1326 Justin Thomas (USA), Francesco Molinari (Ita), Branden Grace (Rsa)
1337 Jason Day (Aus), Shota Akiyoshi (Jpn), Li Haotong (Chn)
1438 Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson (USA), Matt Wallace (Eng)
1459 Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith (Aus), Brooks Koepka (USA)
1510 Sergio Garcia (Esp), Bryson DeChambeau (USA), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind)
1521 Tiger Woods (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Russell Knox
The full listing of the first round tee times can be found here.
Tiger Woods Focus
With back-to-back appearances at major championships under his belt, after a T-32 at Augusta National in April and last month's missed cut at Shinnecock Hills, and another top-5 finish at the Quicken Loans National just two weeks ago, excuses of ring-rustiness no longer hold any water.
Tiger has been competitive on numerous occasions during this year's PGA Tour schedule and should be ready to compete with the world's best this week at The Open.
Read our recent blog post to get a list of reasons why we think the GOAT could be the man to watch at Carnoustie.
Who wins it?
Leading Chance: Justin Rose
It's time for Justin Rose to add to his solitary major championship (U.S. Open 2013) and recent performances suggest that the world number three is well placed to mount a serious challenge at The Open 2018.
Catch a few memories of Rose's first and best Open finish back in 1998 as an amateur...
Lively Outsider: Hao-Tong Li
Hao-Tong is a likeable player who has his chance to put Chinese golf on the map in the men's game.
Finished with a flourish during his final round on Open debut at Birkdale last year and has shown plenty of progress since. Won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic back in January.
Who do you think could walk away with the Claret Jug this week? Let us know below...
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