The Open day one: Plenty to look forward to as the action starts at St Andrews

The 150th Open Championship was getting under way at St Andrews on Thursday.

Here, the PA news agency looks forward to the action in the final major of the year.

McIlroy braced for difficult challenge

Rory McIlroy was expecting St Andrews to play tough and get tougher as he began his latest Open challenge.

The 2014 champion was due to tee off at 9.58am at the Old Course alongside defending champion Collin Morikawa and last week’s Scottish Open winner Xander Schauffele.

There have been suggestions the game’s modern big-hitters could make the course look straightforward but, with fast and firm ground and likely wind, McIlroy is not convinced.

He said: “I think with the condition of the golf course, with a little bit of breeze, you can bomb it around here and hit driver and get it close to the greens, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to make birdies from those positions.

“I just think with the way the golf course is playing and how firm and fast it is, it’s just going to get super tricky by the end of the week.”

McIlroy believes the conditions could even play into the hands of none other than Tiger Woods.

“It’s going to be a game of chess this week, and no one’s been better at playing that sort of chess game on a golf course than Tiger over the last 20 years,” he said.

Course specialists?

Woods has won the Open twice at St Andrews
Woods has won the Open twice at St Andrews (David Davies/PA)

As a two-time Open winner over the Old Course, Woods inevitably heads the field when it comes to specialist knowledge of the famous Fife links. Other past St Andrews victors who could again challenge include Zach Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen. Tyrrell Hatton may also fancy his chances, having excelled in the Dunhill Links Championship. Although that event only features two rounds at the Old Course, Hatton won in 2016 and 2017 and came runner-up in 2018.

Tweet of the day

Picture of the day

McIlroy drives over the hotel at the 17th hole
McIlroy drives over the hotel at the 17th hole (Jane Barlow/PA)

Key tee times

0635: Paul Lawrie, Webb Simpson, Min Woo Lee
0814: Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose
0958: Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele
1009: Shane Lowry, Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland
1326: Scottie Scheffler, Joaquin Niemann, Tyrrell Hatton
1459: Tiger Woods, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa
1510: Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Harold Varner

Weather forecast

There was a brief downpour on the final day of practice on Wednesday
There was a brief downpour on the final day of practice on Wednesday (Richard Sellers/PA)

A dry and bright start was expected on Thursday but with cloud building up during the day. Sunny spells are expected to continue but showers are possible in the afternoon. Light winds in the morning, with gusts of 15-20mph later.