Defending Open Champion Shane Lowry has been grouped with reigning U.S. Open champ, Jon Rahm and fellow Open winner, Louis Oosthuizen for the opening two rounds of the 149th Open at Royal St. George’s. The trio will tee-off at 9.58am on Thursday, and then at 2.59pm on Friday.
Rory McIlroy begins his quest for a fifth major championship by joining Patrick Reed and Aussie Cameron Smith at a late 3.21pm first round tee-off in the sixth last group on day one, while he’s out at 10.20am on day two.
Dual Open winner Padraig Harrington has been grouped with 47-year-old Aussie Brad Kennedy and England’s Sam Forgan with a first day tee time of 12.42pm and out in seventh group on day two at 7.41am.
Darren Clarke, winner of the 2011 Open and when last staged at Royal St. George’s, will tee-off in the company Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and 2020 British Amateur champ, Joe Long at 8.25am on Thursday, and then at 1.26pm on day two.
In other groups, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson will partner the pair of Masters’ runners-up Will Zalatoris and Justin Rose. Four-time major winning Brooks Koepka is out with fellow American Jason Kokrak and brilliant Springbok lefty Garrick Higgo while past Open champ, Jordan Spieth will be joined by Bryson DeChambeau and South African Branden Grace, who shot an Open low of 62 on day three when Spieth won in 2017 at Royal Birkdale.
And in a wonderful gesture, Open Championship organisers have handed England’s in-form Richard Bland the honour of teeing-up first at a sprightly 6.35am on Thursday in the company of fellow Brits Andy Sullivan and Marcus Armitage. Bland, 48, winner of the BetFred British Masters, will be competing in his only third Open Championship after making his debut back in 1998 and then for a second occasion in 2017, where he shared 22nd place.
“It’s an incredible honour. Martin (Slumbers – CEO R&A) called me on Sunday just as I was arriving at the Scottish Open for my final round, and he said they would like to recognise what I have done this year and give me the honour of the first tee shot,” said ‘Blandy’ speaking to SKY Sports
“I was overwhelmed and actually, quite close to tears with it all. I cannot thank the R&A enough for giving me that privilege as it is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
In past years we’ve witnessed Colin Montgomerie hit the first tee shot at the 2016 Open at his own Royal Troon Club, Mark O’Meara a year later at Royal Birkdale where he had won in 1998, Sandy Lyle in 2018 at Carnoustie and then at Royal Portrush it was Darren Clarke who was given the honour.
Last out on day one at 4.16pm local time will be England’s 22-year old Nick Poppleton, who secured his place via Final Qualifying at the West Lancashire club.
- Full tee-times HERE