The third week of July is arguably the most important of the golfing year — depending on which side of the pond you reside. The Open Championship returns to Royal Birkdale for the first time since 2008 and while all eyes will be on the big names there are plenty of ancillary characters looking to make their mark on the history books over the next four days.

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Now that the John Deere Classic is in the books, the greatest players on Earth will turn their focus towards the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. For many, this week will be one filled with positive vibes and good feels — but for others, it’ll be a week wrought with concern and self-doubt. 

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2016 RSM ClassicSea Island, Georgia – The PGA Tour returns to Davis Love III‘s home turf this week for the playing of the 2016 RSM Classic.

As with other events in the early going of the 2016-2017 wrap around season, none of the worlds elite players are in the field this week. Some are resting after a busy 2016. Others are in Dubai for the European Tour’s season-ending event.

Still there are FedEx Cup points available and a chance for a year or career defining victory.

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2016 Shriners Hospital for Children OpenLas Vega, Nevada – The PGA Tour returns to the Nevada desert this week for the 2016 Shriners Hospital for Children Open.

As usual, many of the top players most have passed on the 34th edition of this event.

Still there should be plenty of excitement as players look to get an early head start on qualifying for the 2017 Fed Ex Cup Playoffs.

Here’s what you need to know when watching the 2016 Shriners Hospital for Children Open.

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Bethesda, Maryland – The PGA Tour returns to the nation’s capital this week for the 2016 Quicken Loans National. It’s the 10th playing of the event and the seventh time it’s been played at the classic Congressional Country Club layout.

Unfortunately, the star attraction will not be in the field.

Tournament host and two-time champion Tiger Woods continues to recover from back surgery and will devote his time to off the course activities, much to the chagrin of his legion of fans.

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the 2016 Quicken Loans National.

Last Year

American Troy Merritt followed up a sensational 10-under par 61 on Saturday at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, with a final round 67, to record his first PGA Tour title.

The 29-year old finished three shots ahead of Rickie Fowler and four up on Sweden’s David Lingmerth. Merritt’s 61 on Saturday and 266, 72-hole total were both course and tournament records.

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Oakmont, Pennsylvania – The world’s best golfers return to the Oakmont Country Club this week for 2016 U.S. Open.

The 116th playing of America’s national championship promises to test the game’s elite, as many, including 7-time major champion Phil Mickelson, have described Oakmont as the toughest course they will ever play.

Masters champion Danny Willett of England will look to match 2015 U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth by winning the first two majors of the calendar year.

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the 2016 U.S. Open.

Last Year

Spieth took advantage of a 72nd hole three-putt by his third round co-leader Dustin Johnson to win his first U.S. Open, and second consecutive major championship.

Spieth closed with a final round 69, for a four round total of 275, 5-under par, one shot better than Johnson and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen.

Oosthuizen had a 67 on Sunday.

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strong>Dallas, Texas – As the tour travels to “Big D” for the 2016 Byron Nelson, many of the questions revolve around the tournament’s marquee participant.

Defending FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth enters his hometown event in a bit of a funk by his lofty standards. He does have a win this season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and seven other Top 10’s in 14 worldwide starts since the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season started. A great record for any other player on tour.

But for a player whose only goals are to win majors and be the best player in the world, that just doesn’t quite cut it. Over that stretch, Spieth has been overtaken by rival Jason Day for top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. Where Jordan only has a single victory in his 14 starts since last September’s Tour Championship, the Australian has three wins in the 10 events he’s played, including a win at last week’s Players Championship.

Spieth admits Day’s success motivates him to be better. “There’s some motivation there,” Spieth conceded on Tuesday. “[Day] is playing his game. He believes his game is better than anybody else’s and he’s on his game and so it is better than everyone else’s . . . He’s separated himself and that bothers me and it motivates me.”

After his Master’s disappointment and a missed cut at the Players, Spieth will be looking for redemption. An event in his own backyard seems like as good a place as any to find some.

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