Nick Faldo said Monday that competition for golf`s top prizes is twice as stiff now as it was 25 years ago when he won the second of his three British Open crowns at St Andrews.
The Englishman, whose two other Open triumphs both came at Muirfield in 1987 and 1992, said that his big challenge at the time was Greg Norman who was then the world number one and the biggest name in golf.
"But now I believe that the number has grown a little bit of guys who can win majors.
"I`m not sure what it`s up to, but maybe there`s as many as 20 guys you might say, yeah, they really have a chance.
"Where I think maybe back in our time, maybe the guys who were going to win a major was half that. You had your five or six major guys and then you had a few guys who could.
"Yeah, I think those numbers have definitely grown now."
Faldo, who will celebrate his 58th birthday during the Open, spends more time these days in the commentary box than on the golf course.
But the lure of playing the tournament a final time at St Andrews was too much to resist and on top of that he will play in a specially arranged Champion Golfers` Challenge over four holes on Wednesday alongside such former winners as Peter Thomson and Tom Watson.
"I`ve got the great (Swedish caddie) Fanny Sunesson back in town, so she`s going to be on the bag for a couple of holes with my little daughter Emma, and my son is on the bag for the rest of the week," he told a press conference.
"Yeah, we`re trying to gear up to play as best I can, which is tough, because I`ve got a sit down job like you guys for the last 10 years. It has its effects on your body."