Bill Elliot discusses David Howell's tee off tomorrow, the weather for the Open and why he wants Sergio Garcia to win.

Open 2014 – Bill Elliot Blog

The final practice groups were out on the course by 2pm. Then the door to Hoylake’s acreas was shut. No more play until David Howell whacks a ball off the first tee at 25 past six in the morning. Early, yes, but not too early for the elegant Englishman.

“It means I’ll be getting up at around 4.30 but that’s okay. When you’re the father of baby twins then 4.30 in the morning represents a bit of a lie-in, ” grinned Howell.

Whether he will feel like going back to bed or celebrating when he finishes will depend on how Howell performs in the first round. Par would be good. Not much ground gained but little lost either.

While the weather forecast remains problematic the current wisdom is that there should bed no great advantage to going out early or late. If so, this is good news.

Often, probably too often, the weather is a decisive factor at The Open. Calm in the morning, foul in the afternoon, sometimees the reverse, this weather stuff can dictate who has a chance of winning. Unfair? Yes, of course, but then life was never meant to be fair and neither is golf.

This was a question we discussed when I retreated to the Links Pavilion tent for some lunch. Bumping into Chubby Chandler and Carlos Rodreiguez – Sergio Garcia’s manager – we swiftly opened up a barnstorming session on who is going to win this title.

Chubby was very gung-ho about the likes of Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and, yes, Sergio. Naturally Senor Rodriguez agreed about Sergio. And here’s the thing…I want to side with them.

I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have win this Open – well, maybe Lee Westwood – than Sergio. Fact is I like him as a golfer and I like him as a man. I even liked him as a kid when he was often brash, irascible and moody. Never, however, has he been dull and always when away from golf he has been considered and polite to everyone. This at least is my observation.

He was, of course , the man most likely to (do anything and everything) when he burst on to the scene as a teenager with power and style. He was swiftly selected by as the main rival to Tiger Woods by a press and public eager to see two young guys pounding away at each other.

It never happened. Woods nailed everyone but he especially nailed Garcis, plunging a final knife into his younger rival at Hoylake in 2006 when Garcia played with him in the final round and made the mistake of wearing a garish, canary-yellow outfit that allowed Tiger to text his pals later that he had just meshed ‘Tweetypie’.

I’m pretty certain that Garcia will not be going near anything yellow this week. I’m also pretty sure that he is about to enjoy a very decent Open Championship. Can he win it, really? Yes, I believe he can. Chances are that he won’t but he usually rises to this particular occasion and the crowd will be on his side from the start.

But then this is the most open Open of recent times. It’s not that anyone can win this one, just that I could name you 25 who may well and that’s far more than is usual at this ancient Championship.