Final touches for Aussie tilt at Open

Adam Scott did his work early, Jason Day ground out more practice on the range late in the day and Matt Jones finished off his British Open preparations with a money game against grand slam hopeful Jordan Spieth.

With 15 Australians in the field at St Andrews, it is the best chance to break a 22-year drought on the famous claret jug since as many teed it up in 2008.

That year a 55-year-old Greg Norman famously gave up a two-stroke lead with nine to play to finish six shots back of Padraig Harrington at Royal Birkdale, part of the history of heartache Australia has had since The Shark won his second British Open in 1993.

Scott played the last of his multiple practice rounds at first light on Wednesday having arrived early last week to get significant reconnaissance work done.

While Norman’s 2008 loss was tough to swallow, Scott’s 2012 meltdown at Royal Lytham & St Annes was epic.

Leading by four shots with four holes to play, Scott went about bogeying the final four holes to all but hand Ernie Els a one-shot victory.

Some of the sting left when he won the 2013 Masters, but he’s been third and fifth at the Open since and is due.

“The last few years I have played good enough to win each year so I have a level of confidence and comfort for sure,” the former world No.1 said.

“I’m excited, nervous, but know I can put myself in with a chance Sunday with a fair chance on the weather.

“Everything has fallen into a good spot and I have just been going about my business. I’ve come here with the goal to win.”

Others to come close since 1993 include playoff losers Steve Elkington and Stuart Appleby in 2003 and Craig Parry, who finished a shot off the pace in 1999.

Australia’s highest-ranked player this time around is Day, who kickstarts his campaign paired with the past two St Andrews champions in Tiger Woods and Louis Oosthuizen.

Day put in three solid hours at the practice facility on Wednesday afternoon.

“I like playing with those guys. It is always fun to play with Tiger and, given they’ve both won here before, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two playing with them,” the world No.9 said.

“But at this stage I am just raring to go and can’t wait for the tournament to start.”

Jones found himself playing for some spare cash with Spieth, who certainly doesn’t need any having amassed more than $US8.7 million ($A11.7 million) just this season on the US PGA tour with his four wins, including the year’s first two majors.

In a nice confidence boost for the New South Welshman, Jones didn’t have to dip into his wallet, halving the match with the 21-year-old star.

Rod Pampling has the honour of not only being the first Australian off on Thursday, but will also hit the first shot of the tournament at 6:32am local time (3:32pm AEST).

Geoff Ogilvy, Marc Leishman, Steven Bowditch, John Senden, Scott Arnold, Marcus Fraser, Scott Hend, Scott Strange, Greg Chalmers, Brett Rumford and Adam Bland round out the Australian tilt.

FIRST-ROUND TEE TIMES FOR AUSTRALIA’S GOLFERS AT THE BRITISH OPEN ON THURSDAY (ALL TIMES AEST):

3.32pm: Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Greg Owen, ROD PAMPLING (AUS)

4.16pm: Robert Streb (USA), Joost Luiten (NED), MATT JONES (AUS)

6.55pm: Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), JASON DAY (AUS), Tiger Woods (USA)

7.06pm: Brooks Koepka (USA), JOHN SENDEN (AUS), Tadahiro Takayama (JPN)

7.28pm: GREG CHALMERS (AUS), Mikko Ilonen (FIN), David Howell

7.50pm: Tyrrell Hatton, SCOTT ARNOLD (AUS), Paul Kinnear

8.01pm: Daniel Brooks, ADAM BLAND (AUS), Gary Boyd

8.12pm: Jonathan Moore (USA), SCOTT HEND (AUS), Ryan Fox (NZL)

9.17pm: Ben Martin (USA), Hiroshi Iwata (JPN, STEVEN BOWDITCH (AUS)

10.23pm: GEOFF OGILVY (AUS), Francesco Molinari (ITA), Bill Haas (USA)

11.12pm: Martin Kaymer (GER), Jimmy Walker (USA), ADAM SCOTT (AUS)

12.18am: Koumei Oda (JPN), MARC LEISHMAN (AUS), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA)

12.51am: Ben Taylor, BRETT RUMFORD (AUS), Tom Gillis (USA)

1.02am: Alister Balcombe, SCOTT STRANGE (AUS), MARCUS FRASER (AUS)

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