Thursday, July 14, 2016

The 5 best groups for the first two rounds of the British Open

The tee times and groupings are out for the first two days of this week’s British Open at Royal Troon. The opening rounds of the Open are the best in major championship golf, if for no other reason than their sheer length. Golf starts around 6:30 a.m. and goes until about 9 p.m. local time. That’s almost 15 hours of golf each day, and they’re all going off the first tee.

The R&A has put together some strong groupings for the first 36 holes, and we’ve got the five best for you.

1. Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry (9:03 a.m./2:04 p.m.): Spieth was a non-factor at Oakmont in the U.S. Open, but Troon might be a great venue for him. As a Texan, he can handle the wind, which benefits every player going out and hurts them all coming back. Lowry struggled in his Firestone title defense, and Rose is just getting back to normal after a back problem.

2. Jason Day, Danny Willett and Rickie Fowler (9:25 a.m./2:26 p.m.) — These are three guys who are conceivably built well for windy weather. They’re all long, which should help. Day handles tough conditions nicely despite his moon balls. Willett won the Masters in bad weather. Fowler won the Scottish Open last year in less than ideal conditions.

3. Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer and Russell Knox (2:04 p.m./9:03 a.m.) — D.J. is the best player on the planet right now. All eyes are on him to see if he can continue his dominating run. He has a surprisingly good record in the Open.

4. Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Hideki Matsuyama (9:36 a.m./2:37 p.m.) — In concept, all of these guys should be able to do well in this championship. Watson has imagination. Matsuyama is a great ballstiker. McIlroy has already won one of these. But each of them has a flaw that could well be exposed by Troon and its frustrating Jekyll and Hyde nines.

5. Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Ernie Els (1:26 p.m/8:25 a.m.) — Oh, it’s an old guy group. But it’s so much more than that. These are the guys that were closest, but no cigar, to Todd Hamilton when the Open was last played here in 2004.

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