TWAS the night before the Open. And all through the media tent, a variety of creatures, from the athletic golfer to the less athletic scribbler, were stirring.

The build-up to the greatest golf tournament has a series of set pieces that must be played out annually. These include golfing star hitting out, though not with club. Rory McIlroy, bless him, fulfilled this role brilliantly for the 145th Open at Royal Troon by questioning the degree of drug testing and disdaining that most spurious of roles, namely that of a standard bearer for a sport. McIlroy is here to win but settled some scores with critics before even teeing off in the championship.

There was, too, the obligatory R&A briefing where the notion of Donald Trump’s Turnberry hosting an Open was kicked deftly into the long grass yet again and where there was some vagueness about the precise number of drug tests carried out last year – believed to be eight.

There was, of course, the continuing parade of golfers into a media tent that shakes and creaks like the good ship Game’s A Bogey in a tempest. Their contribution can range from the fulsome in the case of Colin Montgomerie to the more reticent, in the case of US Open champion Dustin Johnson.

But all are merely participating in the phoney war before Montgomerie, a club member, strikes the first ball today at 6.35am. A total of 156 golfers – six of them Scots – will vie for the claret jug that has, on the last six consecutive Opens at Troon, being taken back across the Atlantic by US winners.

The most prominent American contender this year is the aforementioned Johnson who arrives in form and with a game that can make the 7,190-yard course seem like a seaside pitch and putt. There have been reports that Johnson intends to bludgeon the course into submission with his driver and he did little to dispel that theory yesterday.

The first four holes will see him search for the driver. He could hit the green with one mighty swing on the first three holes, all par fours. The 555-yard fifth hole will be reached with the aid of a driver and a 5-iron. The 32-year-old American could, wind permitting, be several under par before meeting the more challenging aspects of the course. He expects to be.

Asked if he could win the tournament, he said: “If I have my best stuff, I believe so.” He added later: I always feel like I am the best player in the world.

He will thus step on to the first tee tomorrow with a powerful game bolstered by the confidence of lifting his first major, the US Open at Oakmont. But he is aware of the dangers that Royal Troon presents.

“The defence is the bunkers,” he said. “And if it gets windy it is going to play very tough,” he added. Winds of up to 15mph are predicted for today but their capacity for mayhem involves a consideration of direction not just strength.

The beauty of links golf is that an innocuous golf course can suddenly snarl and bite according to the weather. This is never so true as at the 123-yard Postage Stamp. Johnson could hit a beach ball onto this green with a stick of celery in the right conditions. But in a crosswind it becomes a trickier proposition.

“If it wasn’t famous, you’d probably stand up and think this is the easiest par 3 in the world,” said Shane Lowry, the Irishman who finished second in the US Open after going into the final round with a four-shot lead,

“But I haven’t played it in a tournament, so it’s probably going to be a little bit more intimidating tomorrow than it has been the last couple of days when I just stood up and flicked it away on to the middle of the green and it felt quite easy.”

He added that it would be “interesting” to see how it played in championship conditions. This also applies to a course that has been softened by rain.

The players are ready but Royal Troon reserves the right to bring rain, wind and relative mayhem to the party.