Rory McIlroy has been drawn with Rickie Fowler and Ernie Els for the first two rounds of the Open. Credit: golffile.ieTitle favourite Rory McIlroy has been drawn with American young gun Rickie Fowler and stablemate Ernie Els for the first two rounds of the Open at Sandwich. (Tee times)

The world No 4 and US Open champion will begin his bid for back to back majors at 9.09 on Thursday morning.

Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington will all have to wait until the afternoon to get their bids underway.

Clarke will tee it up with American Jonathan Byrd and Korea’s YE Yang at 1259 with Harrington partnering the Australian winner of the British Amateur title, Bryden Macpherson, and American Matt Kuchar at 1.21.

McDowell goes off with Masters and US Open runner up Jason Day and American left-hander Bubba Watson at 1.43.

Masters winner Charl Schwartzel goes off with world No 5 Steve Stricker and England’s world No 2 Lee Westwood at 2.10 with defending Open champion Louis Oosthuizen in the next group off at 2.21 with four time major winner Phil Mickelson and US PGA champion Martin Kaymer.