Sport Golf

Saturday 10 December 2016

Shane Lowry to tee off with two major winners at British Open while McIlroy paired with Bubba Watson

Phil Casey

Published 11/07/2016 | 13:11

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry
Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry

Honorary member Colin Montgomerie will hit the first shot of the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon on Thursday.

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Montgomerie, who is making his first appearance in the Open since 2010 after coming through final qualifying, tees off at 6:35am alongside former world number one Luke Donald and Australia's Marc Leishman.

The 53-year-old, whose father James was club secretary for more than 20 years and will soon take over as president, finished 24th and 25th respectively the last time Troon staged the Open in 1997 and 2004.

Speaking ahead of last week's Scottish Open, Montgomerie said he would probably not have entered the 36-hole qualifying event if the Open had not been at Troon.

"Because it was Royal Troon I thought I'll give it a go and it was quite a big deal to qualify," the former European number one said. ''It was more of a relief than anything because I'd come so close at Sunningdale last year to winning the British Seniors and I knew the winner got an invite into Troon.

''Having qualified, next week's goal is to be there on Sunday and that has changed, no question. Back in the 90s, I was going to The Open to win it. That has changed of course. You have to be realistic.''

World number three Jordan Spieth gets his campaign for a third major title under way at 9:03am alongside former US Open champion Justin Rose and Ireland's Shane Lowry, who let slip a four-shot lead in the final round at Oakmont last month.

Masters champion Danny Willett, who was sixth last year, tees off at 9:25am with Rickie Fowler and world number one Jason Day, who missed out on the three-man play-off at St Andrews 12 months ago by a single shot.

In the group behind, 2014 champion Rory McIlroy - ruled out last year by an ankle injury - will play the first two rounds alongside Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson.

The last three Open champions at Troon - Todd Hamilton, Justin Leonard and Mark Calcavecchia - tee off together at 12:31pm, with defending champion Zach Johnson, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson out at 2:15pm.

US Open champion Dustin Johnson gets his bid for back-to-back titles under way 11 minutes earlier alongside Germany's Martin Kaymer and Scotland's Russell Knox.

Former champion Ernie Els, who lost to Hamilton in a play-off in 2004, has been paired with 2013 winner Phil Mickelson and former world number one Lee Westwood, who was second in the Masters in April.

The final group containing English pair Ryan Evans and Callum Shinkwin and South Africa's Zander Lombard tee off at 4:16pm.

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