Spieth and Woods in the spotlight as Open starts

Jordan and Tiger under scrutiny as the 144th Open Championship commences


Afp July 16, 2015
"It's how do you handle that adversity and rebound quickly," said Spieth of the bad weather. PHOTO COURTESY: USA TODAY SPORTS

ST ANDREWS: Thomas Bjorn got the 144th Open Championship underway at St Andrews on Thursday, but all eyes early on were firmly on Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods.

The world number two and world number 241 both have mid-morning tee-times and both have goals to achieve.

The 21-year-old Spieth is seeking a third straight major win after taking the Masters and US Open in the space of two months.

Read: Spieth ‘aware’ of Hogan legacy at Open

The 39-year-old Woods is simply seeking a way back.

Spieth, who would be just the second man, after Ben Hogan in 1953, to win the Open Championship in the same year as the Masters and US Open, is brimming with confidence after taking his fourth title of the year in Illinois on Sunday.

He says he is fully aware of the historical implications of winning this week, and says it can be done even though he has not played a competitive round at the Old Course.

Success breeds success he believes, although he has yet to experience the full blast of a North Sea squall, a force of nature that 13 years go flattened Woods at Muirfield, the last time a player had the chance to win three majors in a row.

The early conditions were perfect for low scoring, with Bjorn's playing partner Greg Owen grabbing the first birdie of the day at the opening hole.

But rain and gusting winds were forecast to sweep from the North Sea from late Thursday through Friday and most of Saturday.

Getting a good, low score in on Thursday morning therefore could be a vital stepping stone towards glory on Sunday evening.

"It's how do you handle that adversity and rebound quickly. But going into it, I certainly am trying to look at it as positively as possible because I don't feel like there's any other way to go about it," Spieth said of the bad weather.

He will step out at 9:33 a.m. (0833GMT) in the company of Asia's top player Hideki Matsuyama and the man he pipped for the US Open crown last month, Dustin Johnson.

Two groups later Woods will set out with the South African who five years ago won the Open the last time it was held at St Andrews, Louis Oosthuizen, and top Australian Jason Day.

Woods insists his remodeled golf game is still a work in progress and that he is heading in the right direction, but another missed cut at last month's US Open indicates otherwise.

He is hoping that his "feels", as he calls it, will come back as he plays again on the course where he won Open glory in 2000 by eight strokes and in 2005 by five strokes.

Tom Watson, the 65-year-old American and five-time Open winner, who is playing the tournament for the last time - maybe - will also draw the fans early in the day.

The top groupings in the afternoon see 2013 champion Phil Mickelson go out at 2:34 p.m. with top European Henrik Stenson of Sweden and fellow American Matt Kuchar.

Shortly after that, three-time winner Nick Faldo at 58 will tee it up one last time with top British hope Justinn Rose and last week's Scottish Open champion Rickie Fowler.

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