Tommy’s quest for Open glory
TOMMY FLEETWOOD will launch his bid to become the first English winner of the Open Championship in 25 years alongside two of the sport’s most exciting talents.
The Southport player has been grouped with US Open winner Brooks Koepka and world number two Hideki Matsuyama, who finished runner-up to the American, for the first two rounds.
The 26 year old will get underway at 10.09 today in a match which is bound to attract a large gallery with the Formby Hall player being tipped as a potential winner of the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale.
The trio filled three of the top four places at the US Open at Erin Hills and will again be expected to figure prominently on the leaderboard at the famous links on the Sefton coastline. Wirral’s Paul Waring is in the same group as Kyle Stanley, winner of the Quicken Loans National on the American PGA Tour this year, and Korean-born Kevin Na, who has won in both America and Asia. Waring returns to Birkdale after playing in the 2008 Open when he finished joint 19th. He tees off at 3.32pm.
Former Lancashire county champion Haydn McCullen, who won the final qualifying event at Hillside, tees off at 3.54 alongside Li Haotong, who won the Volvo China Open in 2016 with an eight under par 64 on the final day, and American Kent Bulle.
Sir Nick Faldo was the last Englishman to lift the Claret Jug at Muirfield while it is 48 years since Tony Jacklin became the last English golfer to win on a course in his home country when he triumphed at Lytham St Annes.
The opening shot of this year’s tournament will be played by 1998 Birkdale winner Mark O’Meara at 6.35am.
Defending champion Henrik Stenson starts at 9.47am alongside Jordan Speith and Players champion Si Woo Kim.
Justin Rose, who finished as best amateur in a tie for fourth in 1998, starts at 9.58am, while Rory McIlory is out in the afternoon (2.48pm) alongside Dustin Johnson. Masters champion Sergio Garcia tees off at 1.04pm.