The 141st Open Championship will begin from a brutal Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club this Thursday in England, as 2011 winner Darren Clarke of Scotland will try to bring another victory back to his home country in the season's third major tournament.
Victorious by two strokes over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson a year ago at Royal St. George's Golf Club, Clarke and fellow countrymen Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are sure to be popular names on the leaderboard as the week presses on. Also likely to be hot in contention is the American trio of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, three of the most well-known players in the world. Despite never winning a major in his brief career, Fowler broke out at last year's Open with a fifth-place finish, and appears to flourish under the often unbearable British Open conditions.
Local product Justin Hicks, who once starred for the Michigan Wolverines, will be representing the state of Michigan overseas at this year's tournament. The 37-year-old Hicks is primarily a Nationwide Tour veteran but will be making his first career appearance at the British Open this week.
Though he has only recorded two victories on the Nationwide Tour, Hicks has made the cut at a pair of U.S Open Championships as a professional and firmly believes he's in store for a career week in England. "I'm playing some of the greatest golf of my life," Hicks told the Detroit News. "I felt that way in the past. Now I have proof."
With the opening round set to begin bright and early on Thursday morning, the players will use the preceding weekdays for vital practice rounds and final tune-ups. The inclusion of massive grandstands will turn the final stretch of holes over the weekend into one of the greatest spectacles in sports, so the early-week practice sessions could prove invaluable for many golfers as they adjust to their surroundings.