Spieth paired with champion Stenson

McIlroy enters this year’s British Open on the back of three missed cuts in the past four weeks and is still without a win in 2017 as he attempts to reclaim the title he won at Royal Liverpool in 2014.

Sky Sports will have round-the-clock coverage from Royal Birkdale, with a dedicated channel for the 10 days around the third major of the year. A final round 66 brought him back to -8, only five shots off the 72-hole score of eventual victor Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Stenson and Spieth are scheduled to tee off with South Korean Kim Si-woo, who became the youngest victor at the Players Championship earlier this year, at 0947 local time (0847 GMT) on Thursday.

A downbeat Henrik Stenson all-but dismissed his chances of retaining his Open title, despite a closing 68 in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. There’s always a chance and I’m going to enjoy the week. “Maybe we can turn things around a little bit but I need to step it up quite a lot”. Who knows? It might be my only Open as defending champion.

Other notable groups include: Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia and and Jason Day (8:04 a.m. ET); Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and Paul Casey (8:26 a.m. ET); Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel (9:48 a.m. ET); Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Lee Westwood (9:59 a.m. ET) and Phil Mickelson, Franceso Molinary and Marc Leishman (10:10 a.m. ET).

Stenson and Spieth, who will be joined by Players champion Kim Si-woo, are among the early starters on Thursday.

Paul Casey (1.26pm), Lee Westwood (2.59pm) and Phil Mickelson (3.10pm) are the pick of the afternoon bunch with the first tee shot of the day at 6.35am going to 1998 victor here, American Mark O’Meara.