It’s not exactly a golden ticket, but you might say Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau own the lucky tee times for the first two rounds of the British Open at Royal St. George’s Club in Sandwich, England.
That’s because DeChambeau and Spieth are playing in a threesome with South African Branden Grace, which tees off at 4:25 a.m. (EST) on Thursday.
To be sure, Grace is a fine player, a threat to win in his own right. But more than that, he’s just good karma. The winners of the last two British Opens both played with Grace in their opening rounds.
The championship wasn’t played in 2020 because of the pandemic, but in 2019, winner Shane Lowry was slotted with Grace and Phil Mickelson in the first two rounds. In 2018, winner Francesco Molinari started things off alongside Grace and Justin Thomas.
As for Grace, he didn’t fare so well in those two events. In 2018, he missed the cut at Carnoustie and in 2019 he tied for 51st at Royal Portrush. The 33-year-old’s best finish in a British Open is T6 at Royal Birkdale in 2017.
That said, Grace could be considered a dark horse this week. The Corey Feldman lookalike ranks ninth in total strokes gained over the last 24 rounds and has top-10 finishes in each of his last two PGA Tour starts.
DeChambeau and Spieth were considered contenders before the tee times were announced. DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champ, was a 14-1 pick in the betting books. Spieth, the 2017 winner at Royal Birkdale, has a win and eight top-10s since February.
Another interesting aspect of DeChambeau’s tee time alongside Grace and Spieth is the name it doesn’t include, i.e. his arch nemesis Brooks Koepka.
Koepka, who has two U.S. Open titles and two PGAs to his credit, has yet to conquer a British Open. His best was a T4 at Carnoustie in 2018. He will start this pursuit at 3:03 a.m, part of a threesome with Jason Kokrak and Garrick Higgo.
Reigning U.S. Open champ Jon Rahm joins reigning British Open champ (2019) Shane Lowry and 2010 champ Louis Oosthuizen at 4:58 a,m, Rahm birdied the final two holes of the U.S. Open to edge Oosthuizen by a stroke at Torrey Pines.
Meanwhile, surprising PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson, will tee off with Tyrrell Hatton and Kevin Kisner at 9:48 a.m. Another high-profile group includes Justin Thomas with Adam Scott and Tommy Fleetwood at 10:10 a.m. That threesome is followed by the trio of Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and Cameron Smith.
If you recall, McIlroy and Reed staged a spirited and memorable singles duel in the 2016 Ryder Cup, with Reed prevailing. The threesome of Lee Westwood, Stewart Cink and Martin Kaymer will start at 5:09 a.m., followed by Dustin Johnson with Justin Rose and Will Zalatoris at 5:20 a.m.
The 149th British Open field has absorbed a number of notable withdrawals. Hideki Matsuyama, the recent Masters champion, had to withdraw because of testing positive for Covid-19. Additional withdrawals include Sungjae Im, Si Woo Kim, Matthew Wolff, Kevin Na and Bubba Watson.
More Morning Read Coverage of 2021 British Open:
- Unfazed Bryson DeChambeau Turns Page on Caddie Saga
- Bettors' Roundtable: Favorites, Sleepers, Best Bets from Pool of Experts
- No Course Embraces Quirks Quite Like Royal St. George's'
- Shane Lowry Can Make Rare History This Week
- The Perfect Venue to Cap 2021 Major Season? It's Royal St. George's
- Americans Need to Man Up an Deal With British Open Travel Protocols
- Elements of Style: What Pros Will Wear This Week at British Open
- Gary Player Says St. George's is Easiest of Open Venues