Russell Knox to play with Tiger Woods in The Open

Russell Knox, pictured at Gullane in the Scottish Open, has been paired with Tiger Woods and Hideki Matsuyama in the opening two rounds at Carnoustie. Picture: SNS
Russell Knox, pictured at Gullane in the Scottish Open, has been paired with Tiger Woods and Hideki Matsuyama in the opening two rounds at Carnoustie. Picture: SNS
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Russell Knox will have Tiger Woods for company when he tees off in the opening round of the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday.

Making up one of the marquee groups on a day when Sandy Lyle, the 1995 champion, has been handed the honour of hitting the opening shot on his final appearance will be Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

The dream draw for Scottish No 1 Knox is a reward for his sparkling form heading into the third major of the season on the Angus coast.

The 33-year-old finished joint-second in the French Open just over a fortnight ago before winning the Irish Open to catapult himself into Ryder Cup contention.

He was also in contention in the Scottish Open at Gullane last weekend before falling away on the final day as a recent hectic schedule finally caught up with him.

For three-time winner Woods, this is his first appearance in the event since St Andrews in 2015, having been forced to sit out the last two years with back trouble.

That group is out late in the first round, teeing off at 3.21pm - almost nine hours after Lyle gets the event underway.

Lyle’s exemption runs out this year due to him having turned 60 in February, meaning he needs a top-10 finish here or wins next week’s Senior Open at St Andrews to extend an unbroken run that stretches back to 1977.

Off at 6.35am on Thursday with the Scot are two-time major winner Martin Kaymer and 2016 Ryder Cup player Andy Sullivan.

Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, is out at 9.58am in the company of the hotly-fancied Justin Rose and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

It’s an afternoon start for 2014 champion Rory McIlroy, world No 1 Dustin Johnson and second-ranked Justin Thomas.

McIlroy heads out at 12.53pm along with Australian Marc Leishman and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen while Johnson is out with compatriot Charley Hoffman and French Open winner Alex Noren at 1.04pm.

Thomas, the US PGA champion, begins his Claret Jug bid at 1.26pm in a group that also contains on-form Italian Francesco Molinari and South African Branden Grace, who shot the first 62 in a major in the third round at Royal Birkdale 12 months ago.

In addition to Knox and Lyle, the three other Scots in the 156-strong field have also been handed groups that should help them get the juices flowing on the first tee.

Scott Jamieson, who secured his spot off the Race to Dubai last season, has 2001 winner David Duval and recent PGA Tour winner Kevin Na in his one at 9.25am.

As was the case when he made his debut as an amateur at Muirfield in 2013 - it was Mark O’Meara on that occasion - Forrest also has a past champion, 1996 winner Tom Lehman, in his group,

South African Dylan Frittelli makes that up at 2.26pm while 19-year-old amateur Locke is out at 11.16am along with 2012 FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker and Australian Cameron Davis.