All eyes on Woods as Open starts

David Howell got the 143rd British Open underway at the crack of dawn on Thursday, but all the attention will be firmly focused on Tiger Woods during the opening round.

Woods, who regards himself as “fit again” following back surgery earlier this year, dominated golf for the majority of the last two decades and won 14 major titles in that time.

This week’s tournament at Royal Liverpool Golf Club comes at a crucial time in the 38-year-old’s career, though, as his title at the all-time major record of 18 wins held by Jack Nicklaus since 1986 continues.

While some believe that Woods’ time in the sun has come and gone – his last major victory took place at the 2008 US Open – how fit the former world number is will become apparent quickly: he is set to start his opening round at 9:04am local time.

Woods’ third of three Open Championship titles was won at the same course – in 2006 – but much has changed for the American since then.

“My life is very different than what it was then,” Woods admitted.

A plethora of strong players will have the same ambition as Woods on Merseyside this week, though.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson will be eager to compete for the title once more, while Adam Scott, who finished in the top three in the last two years – is eager to become the first Australian winner of the Claret Jug since Greg Norman in 1993.

US Open winner Martin Kaymer and former number one Rory McIlroy can’t be written off either, while Henrik Stenson is out to become the first Swede and the first Scandinavian to lift the Jug.