SOUTHPORT, United Kingdom: World number one Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy will play together in the first two rounds of the British Open at Royal Birkdale, it was announced on Monday.
Johnson and McIlroy will play together with former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa in a group that will start their opening round at 2:48pm (1348 GMT) on Thursday.
The trio will then tee off at 9:47am on Friday on the links in the town of Southport, just north of Liverpool on the north-west coast of England.
McIlroy won the Open not far from Birkdale at Hoylake in 2014 but comes into this year’s championship in poor form, having missed the cut at both the Irish Open and the Scottish Open in the last two weeks.
The world number four also missed the cut at the US Open, as did Johnson, who has not played since then.
World number two Hideki Matsuyama of Japan is in a group with US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Southport native Tommy Fleetwood, ranked 14th in the world and one of the form players on the tour at the moment.
They will go out at 10:09am for Thursday’s first round.
World number three Jordan Spieth of the United States and last year’s Open champion Henrik Stenson of Sweden will play together alongside Kim Si-Woo of South Korea in the first two rounds, teeing off at 9:47am on Thursday.
Another group sure to attract the galleries will be the trio of Masters champion Sergio Garcia, world number six Jason Day of Australia and 2015 Open champion Zach Johnson.
Mark O’Meara, who won The Open at Birkdale in 1998 and is now 60, will have the honour of starting off the tournament when he tees off at 6:35 am on Thursday. — AFP