British Open: Eight key groups you should follow in Thursday's Round 1

Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports

British Open: Eight key groups you should follow in Thursday's Round 1

2019 British Open

British Open: Eight key groups you should follow in Thursday's Round 1

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – A wee bit of weather arrived at Royal Portrush on Wednesday. And it’s not leaving anytime soon.

After four glorious days of sunshine and light breezes coming off the North Atlantic Sea, the weather turned sour as winds picked up, temperatures dipped, and rain started to fall. And fall.

The forecast looks just as dour as each day of the 148th playing of the British Open is expected to feature temps in the 55- to 65-degree range, winds up to 20 mph and plenty of rainfall.

Just a few of the 156 players in the field had experienced similar harsh elements before Wednesday, one being Adam Scott, who set up camp in Portrush more than 10 days ago. Scott has played Royal Portrush with different wind directions to tackle and rain to dodge, which could be a huge advantage.

Conversely, Tiger Woods, who flew in on Sunday, played 43 holes in calm conditions his first three days and spent only an hour on the practice ground Wednesday hitting balls and putting in light to heavy rain.

BRITISH OPEN: Rounds 1 & 2 tee times | TV info | Photos

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Weather is always a factor in the oldest championship in golf. So, too, as has often been the case, is the luck of the draw. With tee times spread out from 1:35 a.m. ET to 11:16 a.m. for the first two rounds, one portion of the field could deal with much harsher conditions than the other portion of the field.

Here are the featured groups to keep an eye on Thursday: (All times ET)

2:52 a.m.: Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry and Branden Grace. Mickelson is 15-18 pounds lighter after a fast and change in his diet but is carrying limited expectations as he seeks to turn his recent poor form around.

4:14 a.m.: Henrik Stenson, Xander Schauffele and Graeme McDowell. Stenson, the 2016 Open champion, is always a threat to win the Claret Jug. Schauffele has finished in the top 6 four of the last six majors. McDowell is a local favorite and possesses as much experience on Royal Portrush as any player in the field.

4:58 a.m.: Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau and Adam Scott. Molinari begins defense of his title alongside two serious threats to win the Claret Jug.

5:09 a.m.: Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland and Paul Casey. Expectations will be a heavy burden for McIlroy to shoulder as Northern Ireland’s favorite son tries to win his second Claret Jug and fifth major. Woodland is the reigning U.S. Open champion and Casey one of the best ball-strikers in the game.

8:04 a.m.: Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen and Shubhankar Sharma. Four-time major champion Koepka is the world No. 1 who has gone 1-T39-1-T2-1-2 in his last six majors.

9:59 a.m.: Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Keegan Bradley. A trio of major champions is led by Johnson, the world No. 2 who has finished second twice in the last three majors.

10:10 a.m.: Tiger Woods, Matthew Wallace and Patrick Reed. Woods, who won the Claret Jug in 2000, 2005 and 2006, hasn’t hit a shot in competition since finishing in a tie for 21st in the U.S. Open more than a month ago. On Tuesday he said he wasn’t as sharp as he wanted to be.

10:21 a.m.: Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay and Matt Kuchar: All three are ranked in the top 13 in the world golf rankings. All three are among the top 15 favorites in the betting shops. All three have won this year. All three are serious threats to win again.

 

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