Woods paired with Reed in Open Championship
Masters champ hasn't played in a tournament since the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach
Tiger Woods tees off at 9:10 a.m. CT Thursday in the first round of The Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Woods is paired with Patrick Reed and Matthew Wallace. He's been on the grounds in Northern Ireland for more than a week, syncing his body with the time zone and getting familiar with the layout.
A three-time British Open champion, Woods played 18 holes with Reed on Sunday. On Monday he played another 18 with Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Woods hasn't played in a tournament since the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach a month ago.
"The breaks are always great for my golf," Woods said Monday, noting he's following the plan he shared late last year to trim back the number of tournaments he entered in hopes of competing for the entire season.
Woods won his 15th major at The Masters in April. He claimed the Claret Jug by winning the British Open in 2000, 2005 and 2006, but missed the cut at the PGA Championship in May. He tied for 21st at the U.S. Open.
Portrush native Darren Clarke has the honors of taking the first tee shot Thursday -- at 12:35 a.m. CT -- and spent last week serving as an ambassador for the town and course.
Another local favorite, Rory McIlroy, is paired with U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland and Paul Casey. McIlroy set the Portrush course record of 61 when he was 16 years old. McIlroy said he's entirely comfortable on the challenging course, which "just feels like Portrush to me."
McIlroy hasn't won a major in five years, but said winning this week would be a career-defining achievement in his mind.
"Never in a million years did I think that an Open Championship would be played again at Royal Portrush," he said.
Defending champion Francesco Molinari and Bryson DeChambeau are in a group with Adam Scott and will tee off (3:58 a.m. CT) one group before McIlroy's.
Charles Howell III, who tied for sixth Sunday at the John Deere Classic, withdrew from the field Monday and was replaced by Brian Harman.