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British Open: McIlroy favored, Woods returns for golf major

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Tiger Woods practices for the 150th British Open on Wednesday at the Old Course at St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/283b71563893f807515cef368d70d495/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Tiger Woods practices for the 150th British Open on Wednesday at the Old Course at St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

July 13 (UPI) -- Rory McIlroy is the favorite to claim the Claret Jug and a record $2.5 million first-place prize at the British Open, which will tee off Thursday and end Sunday at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.

The tournament will air on Peacock, USA Network and NBC. McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, won the 2014 British Open. He finished in the Top 8 in each of this year's three previous majors.

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"To hear your name as the Championship Golfer of the Year ... that's what dreams are made of," McIlroy told reporters Tuesday in St. Andrews, Fife. "I would love to replicate that [2014 win] on Sunday evening."

Tiger Woods, a 15-time major winner and three-time British Open champion, will return for the season's final major. Woods skipped last month's U.S. Open because of lingering leg pain linked to the injuries he sustained from his single-car accident in 2021.

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"I just didn't want to miss this Open," Woods said Tuesday. "Here at the home of golf. This has meant so much to me. This is where I completed the career Grand Slam."

Woods, ranked No. 994, is not among the favorites to hoist the Claret jug as winner of the 150th edition of the tournament. No. 5 Xander Schauffele, No. 3 Jon Rahm, No. 12 Jordan Spieth and No. 1 Scottie Scheffler are among the Top 5 expected contenders.

This year's U.S. Open champion, Matthew Fitzpatrick (No. 10), No. 7 Justin Thomas, No. 22 Shane Lowry, defending champion Collin Morikawa (No. 8), No. 13 Will Zalatoris and No. 6 Cameron Smith also are among the favorites.

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"Now that I know what it's like to have the Claret Jug for a year, there is nothing like it," Morikawa said Monday. "It was a really special year. It will be in my history for the rest of my life. It's pretty cool to try and defend this week at the 150th at St. Andrews."

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Several golfers in the 160-player field said earlier this week that the Old Course fairways are playing fast, while the greens are lush and bunkers are extremely deep. They also said they expect to battle unpredictable winds on the seaside course.

The 469-year-old Old Course, the oldest one in the world, will play at 7,313 yards at a par of 72 this week along the North Sea. The links-style course often leads to player to hit the ball well short of the greens, allowing it to roll toward them.

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Moderate breezes are expected throughout the weekend. A slight chance of rain is in the forecast for Friday's second round. The players with the Top 70 scores and ties through the first two rounds will advance to Saturday's third round.

"I think this week you are going to see guys laying back a little bit," McIlroy said of golfers' playing strategy. "The pin positions and hole locations this week are different. "

"Laying back and giving yourself full shots into some of these greens and playing the angles a little more will be a little more important. It's definitely more a strategic golf course."

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Groups

Local time in Scotland is about five hours ahead of Eastern daylight time, which means the tournament will tee off very early Thursday.

Paul Lawrie, Webb Simpson and Min Woo Lee will be the first group out at about 1:35 a.m. EDT. Phil Mickelson, Lucas Herbert and Kurt Kitayama will tee off about an hour later in Group 6.

Morikawa, McIlroy and Schauffele are in the same group. That group will tee off at about 5 a.m. EDT Thursday. Scheffler, Joaquin Niemann and Tyrrell Hatton will tee off at 6:26 a.m. Woods, Fitzpatrick and Max Homa will start at 7:59 a.m.

How to watch

All times EDT

Thursday

First round streams from 1:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Peacock; TV coverage from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. on USA Network

Friday

Second round streams from 1:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Peacock; TV coverage from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. on USA Network

Saturday

Third round streams from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Peacock; Early TV coverage from 5 to 7 a.m. on USA Network; TV coverage from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on NBC

Sunday

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Final round streams from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Peacock; Early TV coverage from 4 to 7 a.m. on USA Network; TV coverage from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on NBC

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