Pádraig Harrington will have some major company in the first two rounds of the Open at Royal Birkdale.

The defending champion has been drawn with two-time US Open winner Retief Goosen and 1997 Open champion Justin Leonard.

In form Ulsterman Graeme McDowell will also have a major champion in his group as he tees off with 2004 Open champion Todd Hamilton and the controversial South African Rory Sabbatini.

Dubliner Philip Walton finished up with fellow qualifiers David Smail of New Zealand and American Michael Letzig.

But Damien McGrane was in comic form when he learned that he would be out in the fourth group of the day with American star Jerry Kelly and South African Darren Fichardt.

McGrane joked: “Jerry Kelly? Jaysus. Doesn't he work for UTV?”

The Meath man got his first look at Royal Birkdale yesterday and immediately discovered that the rough is not as bad as he heard.

At the 436-yard 11th, he holed out with a rescue club from the long grass for a magical eagle two.

Only five people saw the shot after he teed off in one of first practice groups of the day at 9 am.

Apart from his caddie, his playing partners Danny Chia and Angelo Que and an eagle-eyed photographer, a lone marshall was the only one to raise a cheer.

Irish tee-times rd 1 (rd2)

07:03 (12:14) Jerry Kelly (USA), Darren Fichardt (RSA), DAMIEN MCGRANE

07:58 (13:09) PADRAIG HARRINGTON, Retief Goosen (RSA), Justin Leonard (USA)

11:52 (06:41) PHILIP WALTON, David Smail (NZ), Michael Letzig (USA)

12:36 (7:25) Rory Sabbatini, GRAEME MCDOWELL, Todd Hamilton (USA).