Sport Golf

Saturday 21 April 2018

Rory McIlroy to play alongside Dustin Johnson for the first two rounds of the Open Championship

Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy
Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy

Phil Casey

Former champion Mark O'Meara will hit the first shot of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on Thursday.

O'Meara, who won the second major of his career when the Open was staged at Birkdale in 1998, will tee off at 6:35am alongside fellow American Ryan Moore and England's Chris Wood.

Wood finished fifth at Birkdale in 2008 and won the silver medal as leading amateur, before missing out on the play-off between Tom Watson and Stewart Cink by a single shot the following year at Turnberry.

Defending champion Henrik Stenson will get his title defence under way at 9:47am in the same group as two-time major winner Jordan Spieth and South Korea's Si Woo Kim, who won the Players Championship at Sawgrass in May.

Stenson was pessimistic about his chances despite a closing 68 in the Scottish Open on Sunday, after which he was asked if he could emulate Padraig Harrington in winning back-to-back Open titles at Birkdale.

"I think we're hoping for a lot in terms of what we saw this week," the 41-year-old said. "We certainly need to step that up quite a lot if we want to have anything to do with it next week.

"There's always a chance and I'm going to enjoy the week. You never know, it might be the only time we're defending champion at the Open Championship so I might as well enjoy it."

Harrington is in the group ahead of Stenson alongside American Pat Perez and Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters, with Justin Rose, 2010 winner Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Thomas out at 9:58am.

Local favourite Tommy Fleetwood, who was fourth in the US Open behind Brooks Koepka, will renew battle with the American at 10:09am along with Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, who was joint second at Erin Hills.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia begins his bid for a second major of the year at 1:04pm with 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson and former world number one Jason Day.

And 2014 champion Rory McIlroy, who comes into the event on the back of three missed cuts in his last four starts, has to wait until 2:48pm to get his campaign under way alongside world number one Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel.

Shane Lowry, the only other Irish participant this week, will hit the first tee at 10.20am in the company of Americans Brandt Snedeker and JB Holmes.

Irish Open winner Jon Rahm has been paired with Patrick Reed and Lee Westwood at 2:59pm, with 2013 champion Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari and Marc Leishman in the group behind.

Australia's Ryan McCarthy, England's Laurie Canter and Colombia's Sebastian Munoz are in the final group at 4:16pm.

Online Editors

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