It's almost here, the 144th Open Championship at St Andrews is just hours away and our man Dan Geraghty is hoping to get off to a flier with this half dozen selections from the first round three-balls...
"Martin Kaymer has wonderful course form - including a victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2010 - as well as solid recent form - a fourth placed finish at the Open de France last time out - and significantly, he already has two majors to his name."
I was keeping a keen eye on the tee times to see who Irish amateur Paul Dunne was paired with and was delighted to see he's out in the second group in a particularly winnable three-ball with James Hahn and Todd Hamilton. Dunne qualified by taking medalist honours at Woburn for the second year in succession, comfortably outscoring a field that included Retief Goosen and Colin Montgomerie as well as a host of young stars. Playing partner Hahn is having a fine season in the States but faces a very different proposition here while Hamilton has missed seven of ten cuts at the Open since he won in 2004, and his PGA Tour appearances are few and far between these days. Dunne says he was overwhelmed when he missed the cut on his Open debut last year, expect a different result this time around.
Retief Goosen picked up the third Open spot from final qualifying at Woburn, the South African has had an inconsistent year on the PGA Tour but has been impressive in coming through qualifiers for both the US Open and Open. Goosen was sixth at St Andrews in 2010 and could be an outsider to watch at a huge price; at the very least he looks too big a price in his three-ball with Kevin Streelman - who has been struggling for form in the States and is making his St Andrews debut - and Shane Lowry, who is a worthy favourite but disappointed at the Scottish Open last week.
There is a school of thought that suggests shorter hitters like Jim Furyk will struggle this week at St Andrews. Not only are the soft conditions against him but Furyk has been paired with two strongly fancied in-form competitors for the first two rounds in Paul Casey and Branden Grace. The course holds no fears for big hitting Casey who played in the final group the last time the Open was at St Andrews and approaches the week bursting with confidence. Grace is strongly fancied but would prefer firmer conditions.
Martin Kaymer is somewhat flying under the radar this week at 41.040/1; the German has wonderful course form - including a victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2010 - as well as solid recent form - a fourth placed finish at the Open de France last time out - and significantly, he already has two majors to his name. Playing partner Jimmy Walker struggled last week after a good start at the Scottish Open and has no competitive St Andrews form to his name. Adam Scott makes up the three-ball, the Australian has disappointed on the Old Course in the past and putting inconsistencies are playing havoc with his season.
Brooks Koepka played at the Dunhill Links Championship last year to prepare for this week and shot 12 under for his two rounds at St Andrews. The powerhouse American will be licking his lips at the soft conditions this week and for my money will emerge as a genuine contender for the Claret Jug on Sunday. John Senden was 22nd at the Scottish Open last week but has a disappointing links record, while Tadahiro Takayama played here in 2005, finishing 23rd, but the 37-year-old has struggled in recent years.
Plenty of pundits are divided as to how Dustin Johnson will react to his latest major disappointment. With the forecast soft conditions, to my mind he should be favourite for his opening round three-ball with Hideki Matsuyama and tournament favourite Jordan Spieth. Johnson is the only one of the trio with St Andrews experience as a professional, having played here in 2010, 11 and 12.
Back Paul Dunne @ 3.185/40 (06:43)
Back Retief Goosen @ 3.55/2 (07:49)
Back Paul Casey @ 2.77/4 (14:56)
Back Martin Kaymer @ 2.915/8 (14:12)
Back Brooks Koepka @ 2.01/1 (10:06)
Back Dustin Johnson @ 2.809/5 (09:33)
*Follow me on twitter @dangeraghty10
2015 Two/Three-Ball P&L
*Based on one point per selection