5 groups to watch Thursday and Friday at The Open at Carnoustie
Make sure your alarm clocks are set and that you have your coffee of choice picked out because The 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie starts at 1:35 a.m. ET Thursday.
Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer and Andy Sullivan start things off as the first group Thursday and the trio of Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis and Bronson Burgoon are scheduled to tee off as the final group at a stateside-friendly time of 11:16 a.m. If you don't feel like waking up in the wee hours of the morning to get your golf fix, we're here to help your sleep schedule by providing the the tee times for top players on Thursday and Friday.
Here are five groups to watch in the first two rounds. For a full list of tee times and pairings, click here.
Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Thursday tee time: 4:58 a.m. ET
Friday tee time: 9:59 a.m. ET
American golf fans can thank the powers that be for scheduling Spieth, the reigning champion of The Open, to tee off just before 5 a.m. ET. He started strong out of the gates in the first round last year at Royal Birkdale, shooting a 5-under 65, eventually winning The Open by three strokes at 12-under.
Spieth may be the biggest name in his group but he doesn't hold the highest Official World Golf Ranking among the trio. That distinction goes to Justin Rose, who ranks No. 3 behind Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas. Rose has two PGA Tour wins since October – the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and Fort Worth Invitational – and eight top-10 finishes.
Aphibarnrat ranks 30th in the OWGR. He finished T44 at the Masters and 15th at the U.S. Open.
Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace
Thursday tee time: 8:26 a.m. ET
Friday tee time: 3:25 a.m. ET
Thomas, the reigning PGA Champion and PGA Tour Player of the Year, is currently the No. 2 player in the world after picking up two wins on Tour this season. He finished T17 at the Masters and T25 at the U.S. Open.
Molinari, ranked 15th in the OWGR, won his first PGA Tour event earlier this month when he won the Quicken Loans National at 21-under. He followed that up with a runner-up finish at the John Deere Classic, making him one of the hottest players on the tour right now.
Branden Grace finished tied for 6th at The Open last year. He has two top-10s this year – T8 at the Valspar Championship and T3 at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace
Thursday tee time: 9:48 a.m. ET
Friday tee time: 4:47 a.m. ET
The last time Carnoustie Golf Links hosted The Open Championship, Harrington won his first of two consecutive championships at The Open after a four-hole playoff with Sergio Garcia.
Watson, the two-time Masters champ, has never finished in the top 20 at The Open but he's currently 13th in the OWGR. He won the Genesis Open, World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play and Travelers Championship this year. He has been boom and bust in majors this year, finishing tied for 5th at the Masters and missing the cut at the U.S. Open.
Wallace is ranked 73rd in the OWGR with three career international victories to his name. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open after shooting a 9-over through two rounds.
Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma
Thursday tee time: 10:10 a.m. ET
Friday tee time: 5:09 a.m. ET
It'll be interesting to see how Garcia handles his return to Carnoustie on Thursday after his '07 collapse, when he led by three strokes entering Sunday and missed a par putt on the 18th hole that would've won The Open. Harrington went on to win in the playoff. Garcia finally got the monkey off his back when he won the 2017 Masters.
We'll have to see if DeChambeau pulls out any strange instruments to help him track hole locations after his use of a drawing compass was ruled as a USGA violation in June. The 24-year-old ranks 22nd in the OWGR after winning the Memorial Tournament – one of five top-five finishes he has this season. Also of note: DeChambeau withdrew from the John Deere Classic last week with a right shoulder injury.
Sharma's best finish on the PGA Tour this season was a T9 finish at the World Golf Championship-Mexico Championship. He missed the cut at the Masters and U.S. Open.
Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox
Thursday tee time: 10:21 a.m. ET
Friday tee time: 5:20 a.m. ET
This is Tiger Woods playing in a major, so of course it's classified as must-watch television. He finished T12 and T7 in his last two trips to Carnoustie in 2007 and 1999, respectively. Tiger, who missed the cut at the U.S. Open, is looking for his first win this season after finishing second at the Valspar Championship, tied for fourth at the Quicken Loans National earlier this month, and T5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Matsuyama, who finished 5th in the OWGR in 2017, had three top-five finishes in his first four events of the season, before finishing 19th at the Masters and T16 at the U.S. Open. Matsuyama's best finish at The Open is T6 in 2013.
One of Russell Knox's best performances of the year came at the last major in 2018, when he finished tied for 12th at the U.S. Open. He's currently 49th on the OWGR.