Darren Clarke will hit the opening tee shot at The 148th Open, while fellow home favourite Rory McIlroy is paired with US Open champion Gary Woodland for the opening two rounds at Royal Portrush.At 6.35am on Thursday, 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year Clarke will strike the first ball at an Open held on Northern Irish soil for 68 years – before completing the 18 holes alongside Irish amateur James Sugrue and American Charley Hoffman.
The 50-year-old has plenty of links to Portrush, having met his late wife Heather in a nightclub there and subsequently lived in the in the picturesque Antrim town.
Clarke’s countryman McIlroy begins his quest for a first Claret Jug in five years at 10.09am, with Woodland and England’s Paul Casey, while another Northern Irishman – Portrush native Graeme McDowell – is off at 9.14am, alongside 2016 Champion Golfer Henrik Stenson and one of last year’s runners-up Xander Schauffele.
No-one in the field has more major wins or Claret Jugs than three-time Champion Golfer Tiger Woods, who is in another marquee group at 3.10pm with talented Englishman Matt Wallace and 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed.
Reigning Champion Golfer of the Year Francesco Molinari starts his title defence at 9.58am, with Adam Scott and Bryson DeChambeau as playing partners, while world No.1 Brooks Koepka tees off at 1.04pm alongside 2010 Champion Golfer Louis Oosthuizen and Shubhankar Sharma.
And among Thursday’s late starters is world No.2 Dustin Johnson, whose 2.59pm tee time will see him play with Jason Day and Keegan Bradley.
Selected Thursday tee times
6.35am – Darren Clarke, James Sugrue (A), Charley Hoffman
7.30am – Padraig Harrington, Matt Fitzpatrick, Andrew Putnam
7.52am – Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Branden Grace
9.14am – Henrik Stenson, Xander Schauffele, Graeme McDowell
9.58am – Francesco Molinari, Adam Scott, Bryson DeChambeau
10.09am – Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Gary Woodland
10.20am – Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner
12.53pm – Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Thomas, Thorbjorn Olesen
1.04pm – Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Shubhankar Sharma
1.26pm – Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Danny Willett
2.48pm – Tony Finau, Lucas Bjerregaard, Justin Rose
2.59pm – Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley
3.10pm – Tiger Woods, Matthew Wallace, Patrick Reed
3.21pm – Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay