Retief Goosen will be bidding to become the first European Tour Member since Tony Jacklin more than 30 years ago to hold the Open Championship and US Open Championship titles simultaneously when he tees up at Royal Lytham & St Annes for the 130th Open Championship.
The South African, who last month won the US Open title by defeating Mark Brooks in an 18 hole play-off at Southern Hills GC, Tulsa, is the latest Major Champion in the star studded field of 156, assembled from an original entry of 2,236, the second highest on record after the Millennium Open at St Andrews last year.
Tiger Woods will be defending champion following his outstanding victory 12 months ago when he finished ahead of Thomas Björn and Ernie Els to become only the fifth golfer in history - and the youngest - to complete the Grand Slam of all four Majors. Woods, of course, went on to win the US PGA Championship and, earlier this year, the Masters Tournament to become the first player to hold all four Major Championship titles at the same time.
Woods was still an amateur in 1996 when the Open Championship was last played at Royal Lytham & St Annes and on that occasion he won the Silver Medal for leading amateur - finishing tied 22nd after scores of 75-66-70-70. His total of 281 not only beat by ten strokes the winning aggregate recorded by Bobby Jones in 1926 but also equalled the Championship record by an amateur set by Iain Pyman at Royal St George's in 1993.
This will be the tenth time Royal Lytham & St Annes has hosted the Open Championship since making its debut on the Open rota in 1926. Tom Lehman won the title in 1996 the last time Royal Lytham & St Annes hosted the Open Championship.
A number of changes have been made to the course since Lehman's victory in 1996. For this year's Championship, a programme for the removal of poplar trees - they are not an indigenous species and they are inappropriate for a links environment - was embarked upon in addition to alterations made to holes and bunkers.
The changes to the course, including the new bunkering (in all 14 bunkers have been added bringing the total to 196), were designed and carried out under the supervision of Stan Eby of European Golf Design. Graham Cochrane, Chairman of Green and Championship Committees, said: "We feel that Stan has done a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the course - his alterations have blended in exceptionally well and look as though they have been there since the course was first laid out."