The inside story of this year's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale

Tommy Fleetwood

The high profile trio off on Thursday at 2.48pm.

It is the first time Harrington will play a tournament at Royal Birkdale since winning the Open there in 2008.

Stenson will hope to emulate the Irishman this year at the Merseyside course, but he has serious competition to contend with.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson will play alongside Rory McIlroy in the first two rounds of the 146th British Open at Royal Birkdale, while reigning champion Henrik Stenson has been grouped with Jordan Spieth in another standout threeball.

I want to say it's probably the winningest year we've had on Spanish golf, between the PGA Tour and the European Tour, or one of them. I tend to snatch it away at times and I drove it poorly in France a couple of weeks ago and it proved costly. I feel like I've prepared nicely....

"Those two are the sort of steady players who could thrive on a par-70 course like Birkdale where you need to plot your way around and display plenty of patience".

"I might have hit the odd shot but that was about as far as it goes".

"I also remember producing one of the best putting displays of my career when I finished third as Lee Trevino won the 1971 Open at Birkdale".

"I've thought about winning The Open since I was five years old so, thinking about it another few days isn't going to make any difference to me".

"So it's been a fun year for Spanish sports, but for Spanish golf it's been great".

Willett said: "We've had a full week off resting with the back, so we'll see". As ever with the Open Championship, anything could happen.

And the first order of business was to hand over the iconic trophy to R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers on the first tee, but Stenson will be doing everything in his power to be the last man standing once again on Sunday evening.

"He seems like he's just aggressive all the time, he's got a huge amount of confidence in his own ability, so there's no reason why he shouldn't be at the top of the heap when you are looking for a potential Open champion".

"Recent results have clearly put me in the eye and made people talk about me as a chance", he said.

After winning his epic duel with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon previous year, Stenson went on to win Olympic silver in Rio and started 2017 with three top 10s in his first four events.

"The long game hasn't been in good shape for a long time and you can't really work when you're trying to perform", he said.

I've done quite a bit of media stuff today, a few interviews, to try and get them out of the way so to speak so I can focus fully on my preparation.

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