McIlroy gets early British Open tee time

BY foxsports • July 11, 2011

Tournament favorite Rory McIlroy will be among the early starters when the British Open gets underway Thursday morning, Sky Sports reported Monday.

The US Open champion will tee off at Sandwich at 9:09am local time, alongside 2002 winner Ernie Els and American Rickie Fowler. The Northern Irish star will be bidding to become the youngest British Open champion since 1893.

McIlroy, 22, begins as the bookies' favorite at Royal St. George's and will be hoping for a similar start to last year at St. Andrews, where he opened with a record-equalling 63.

He went on to finish third in 2010, after a second-round 80 as poor Friday weather ruined his title hopes.

McIlroy has not played a competitive round since his stunning US Open triumph last month, but practiced in southeastern England last week and will give his pre-tournament news conference Tuesday.

American Jerry Kelly will get the tournament underway at 6:30am on Thursday.

Other notable pairings see world number one Luke Donald, fresh from his victory at the weekend's Scottish Open, out in the group immediately after McIlroy. The Englishman will play with Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and Spaniard Sergio Garcia.

World number two Lee Westwood, third and second in the British Open in the last two years, is alongside US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and American Steve Stricker at 2:10pm, with defending champion Louis Oosthuizen in the group behind alongside world number three Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson.

British amateur Tom Lewis, who hails from the same English golf club which launched the career of three-time winner Sir Nick Faldo, is out at 2:32pm with five-time champion Tom Watson and Sweden's Henrik Stenson.

The last man to tee off will be Singapore's Lam Chih-bing, who has to wait until 4:11pm to begin his campaign.

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