sport

Early Open start for Woods

Tiger Woods will begin his bid for a fourth Open Championship alongside Angel Cabrera and Henrik Stenson at 9:04am on Thursday morning.

The American, a 14-time major winner during his incredible career, will be returning to Hoylake, where he won his last Open crown back in 2006.

And the 38-year-old will tee off for his first two rounds alongside Stenson, who finished second in the Open last year, and Cabrera, a former Masters and US Open winner.

Woods missed the first two majors of the year as he recovered from back surgery, returning to action in the Quicken Loans National at the end of June, where he missed the cut.

He has not played a competitive round since then but has been practicing at Hoylake over the weekend and says he is now fully healthy.

\"I can do whatever I want, I'm at that point now," said Woods. "We didn't think we'd get to that point until this tournament, or the week after.

"Before I had the procedure, I was at the point where I couldn't do anything. I had been playing with the injury for a while and I had my good weeks and bad weeks. Now, they are all good."

Dual major winner Rory McIlroy will be out two groups after Woods at 9:26am and he will be playing alongside hugely promising American youngster Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan.

Phil Mickelson was victorious in last year's Open at Muirfield and he will begin his title defence at 2:05pm, in a high class group which will also include Ernie Els, twice an Open winner, and Bubba Watson, who won the Masters for a second time in the spring.

Scottish Open winner Justin Rose is seen as a likely contender this week and he will be out two groups later, at 2:27pm, in another marquee group which will also feature World No 1 Adam Scott and last year's US PGA champion Jason Dufner.

German Martin Kaymer was a runaway winner of the US Open last month and begins his Hoylake campaign at 1:38pm, when he will have Aussie Jason Day and 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson for company.

David Howell will hit the first shot of the tournament at 6:25am and the first group will also include a former champion in the shape of the 2001 winner David Duval.

England's Christopher Rodgers, Scotland's Scott Jamieson and Korea's An Byeong-hun comprise the final group, who will start their opening rounds at 4:06pm.