Russell Knox, the Scottish No 1, will have three-time winner Tiger Woods for company when he tees off in the first round of the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday.
Making up one of the marquee groups on a day when Sandy Lyle, the 1985 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 Knox, one of five Scots in the 156-strong field, 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 the title hunt 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. As a result of that, Knox decided to take a day off on Monday and will not arrive at Carnoustie until today, but he hinted how pleased he was about the draw in a post on social media.
In a caption for a photograph posted by his club manufacturer, Srixon, showing him celebrating one of the monster putts that helped him win that Irish Open, the words read, “when you realise it’s Open week”. Reacting to that, Knox, pictured, wrote: “And paired with Matsuyama and Tiger Woods!!!!”
That group is out late in the first round, teeing off at 3.21pm – almost nine hours after Lyle gets the event under way on his 43rd appearance – just three short of the record held by Gary Player.
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 at Royal Portrush in 12 months’ time.
Off at 6.35am on Thursday with the Scot are two-time major winner Martin Kaymer and 2016 Ryder Cup player Andy Sullivan.
In addition to Knox and Lyle, the three other Scots in the 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 Brandt Snedeker, beaten 5&3 by his mentor Paul Lawrie in the 2012 Ryder Cup, and Australian Cameron Davis.