The 147th Open Championship begins at Carnoustie in Scotland on Thursday with a host of talking points as the world's best descend on one of the world's most demanding links courses. Can Jordan Spieth successfully defend the title he won 12 months ago? Can a rejuvenated Tiger Woods win his first major in a decade? Can Brooks Koepka win back-to-back majors? Or will a first-time winner have his name engraved on the famous Claret Jug? Much of the attention will doubtless by focused on Woods, back at the Open for the first time since 2015, having won the last of his three Opens in 2006 and having last tasted major glory in 2008. Now fit again, and coming off a fourth-placed finish last time out, Woods arrived at Carnoustie with confidence, believing he can win his 15th major.
He also enjoys the course, having finished 12th there in 2007 and seventh in 1999. The unusually hot summer, he says, means the course will ask even more questions of the top players.
"Right now the fairways are faster than the greens," Woods told the Open's official website. "It is mainly about trajectory. You can get the same numbers with different trajectories. You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards; is it really worth it or not? Some of the holes; can you carry bunkers? It is a risk-reward golf course and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast."
Spieth returns as champion, having won at Royal Birkdale, where his birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, par finish secured him his first Open triumph, the third leg of the career Grand Slam. World number one Dustin Johnson is the bookmakers' favorite and has three top 10 finishes at the Open, but the likes of Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and home favorite Tommy Fleetwood will all be heavily backed. Fowler, still searching for his first major victory, despite having finished second in all four, is looking forward to the challenge of Carnoustie.
Koepka, who won his second straight U.S. Open last month, will try to become the first man to win the U.S. Open and Open in the same year since Woods did it in 2000. Home hopes will be led by Fleetwood, who was second behind Koepka at the U.S. Open, Rose and McIlroy, while Spaniards Sergio Garcia and John Rahm are among the favorites, along with former champions Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson. And no one will have more belief than Patrick Reed, the confident American who romped to victory in the Masters earlier this year.