The Claret Jug
The iconic Claret Jug will be up for grabs at Royal TroonGetty Images

Where to watch

The 145th Open Championship is being broadcast live on Sky Sports 4 HD from 06.30 BST on Thursday (14 July), while BBC Radio 5 live will provide live coverage of the event from Royal Troon. Highlights will also be available each evening on BBC Two from 20.00 BST.

Preview

The historic Royal Troon golf course in South Ayrshire, Scotland, is the venue for this year's Open Championship – and one sure to provide a fitting challenge for the eventual winner of the coveted Claret Jug. The best players from around the world have gathered in Scotland to take on the iconic course, which is played as a out-and-in seaside links.

The Open is always one of the traditional highlights of the British sporting summer, but there seems certain to be an extra focus on the tournament in 2016 as it comes less than a month before golf is reintroduced into the Olympics following an absence of more than 100 years.

A number of the world's top players, including Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, have already withdrawn from the Olympics because of concerns over the Zika virus, and there is mounting speculation about the participation of some other players.

McIlroy - the 2014 Open champion - is making his return to The Open after an ankle injury stopped him from defending his title last year. The 27-year-old has not won a major in two years, but McIlroy has insisted he is confident heading into the tournament.

"My game has been quite consistent – apart from in 2013, when I didn't play well. That is probably the only time in the last six years I have dropped outside the top 10 in the world," he said, according to BBC Sport. "I am happy with where my game is. I can't worry about other guys. I am confident if I go out and play my best golf I will win more than not."

Players to watch

Jason Day
Jason Day has been backed to win The Open by Sir Nick FaldoGetty Images

According to six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo, Jason Day is the "most equipped" of the world's top four players to win the Claret Jug at Royal Troon. The 28-year-old is the current world number one and has won seven times in the past 12 months.

Day, who has finished in the top 10 in each of his past five majors, revealed he has sought the advice of his good friend and 14-time major winner Tiger Woods as he seeks to win more titles. "I've learned a lot from him, the mental strength he had, just the will to try and get the job done regardless of how you're hitting the ball," he explained.

Elsewhere, Jordan Speith - who recently withdrew from the Olympics because of the Zika virus - will be looking to make amends for his spectacular collapse at the Masters earlier this year, when he threw away a five-shot lead during the final round. Speith, 22, is confident his game is suited to the challenges Troon will provide, too.

"I have been here since Saturday and seen the different wind conditions," he said. "I love playing links golf. Hopefully, over the next 20 or 30 years, I will show that this style of golf plays to my strengths. I believe if I am in contention I can close."

Danny Willett
Danny Willett caused an upset in April when he won the MastersGetty Images

Spieth's collapse at Augusta opened the door for Englishman Danny Willett to claim a shock Masters title in April. Willett, who tied for 37th place at the US Open in June, says that his Masters triumph has given him the confidence to believe he can repeat the dose at The Open.

"I know I've done it, played well and competed and won against the best guys," he said. "You try not to have too much expectation on yourself every time you go out because it can be a lonely game when things aren't going your way. You can struggle if you keep reminiscing about how well you played a few months ago."

Key holes

The Postage Stamp
A view of the iconic Postage Stamp hole at Royal TroonGetty Images

Royal Troon is noted for some of its iconic holes, which mark it out as one of the most popular Open venues. The par three 8th, the so-called Postage Stamp, is a mere 123 yards long, meaning it is the shortest hole to be played in Open Championship history. Despite this, it is also one of the most challenging – and there are sure to be a few mishaps off the tee at Troon.

Among the other testing holes on the course is the 601-yard par five 6th, which is better known as the Turnberry. The variety of holes at Royal Troon is bound to provide a stern test for the world's top players, especially if they have never before tackled the unique challenges of the course.

Betting odds (betfair)

  • Jason Day 8/1
  • Dustin Johnson 9/1
  • Rory McIlroy 11/1
  • Jordan Spieth 12/1
  • Adam Scott 22/1