July 20, 2017 / 12:53 AM / in 5 months

Johnson and Spieth favourites as British Open begins

SOUTHPORT, England (Reuters) - Americans Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth are the bookmakers’ favourites to win the British Open, which starts at Royal Birkdale on Thursday.

Jul 19, 2017; Southport, ENG; Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the fairway of the seventheenth green during a practice round of The 146th Open Championship golf tournament at Royal Birkdale Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

World number one Johnson is among the later starters in a group including Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the world number four, who is seeking to lift the Claret Jug for a second time.

Spieth, third in the rankings and twice a major winner, will tee off alongside Swedish defending champion Henrik Stenson.

World number two Hideki Matsuyama of Japan will play the opening two rounds in the company of U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and England’s Tommy Fleetwood, the local favourite who is ranked 14th.

Experienced American Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion who lost an epic final-round duel with Stenson at Troon 12 months ago, is also among the late starters.

American Mark O‘Meara, Open champion in 1998, is due to strike the first tee shot at 0635 local time (0535 GMT).

Editing by David Goodman

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