Howell plays the opening shot

DAVID Howell has found himself in a very unique position as he prepares for his tenth Open Championship.

The 39-year-old from Swindon has been given the honour of hitting the first tee shot at the 143rd Open Championship. So, at precisely 6.25 am, he will tee up his ball, offer some last good wishes to his playing partners, David Duval and Robert Karlsson, and hopefully send his first shot of the day straight down the middle.


Some people might baulk at the thought of such an early start but not the man who recently celebrated his 500th appearance on the European Tour. He understands the history and the tradition of The Open and is only too pleased to have been asked to initiate proceedings.


“I’m thrilled,” he admitted on hearing the news. “It’s a big honour. I might have to cut my practice session down a bit but that’s not a problem. It’s great to be asked to start things off.”


Fifteen hours later, a group comprising England’s Christopher Rodger, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and Korea’s Byeong Hun An will bring the first round to a close when they putt out on Hoylake’s 18th green.


They will be the 52nd group to complete their first rounds, all with stories to tell. We might not be much nearer to discovering who will succeed Phil Mickelson as the Champion Golfer of The Year come Sunday night but innumerable sub-plots will have started to unfold. Can Justin Rose make it three wins in- a-row after his recent victories in America and Scotland?

Is Tiger Woods ready to win a 15th Major title just a matter of months after undergoing major back surgery? Will another 40-something lift the trophy? Or can the likes of Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott or Henrik Stenson claim their first Claret Jug? We won’t know until Sunday, but it’s certainly going to be enjoyable to watch things unfold.


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