NORTHERN Ireland amateur golfer Michael Hoey has been drawn alongside former Open champion Justin Leonard in the first two rounds of the 130th Open Championship at Royal Lytham, St Annes.

Hoey qualified to play at Royal Lytham by winning the British Amateur Championship. His Amateur Matchplay Championship success in June has also earned him a place at next April's US Masters in Augusta. Making up Thursday and Friday's three-ball will be Miguel Angel Jiminez of Spain.

Meanwhile, Darren Clarke has been paired with Jim Furyk of the USA and Australian Peter O'Malley. Other Irishmen teeing off early include Padraig Harrington who will have the company of American John Huston and Shigeki Maruyama of Japan, and Paul McGinlay who will play with Australia’s Greg Norman and America’s Mark O’Meary.

Defending champion Tiger Woods begins his title defence at around 9am alongside Argentinian Angel Cabrera and France's Thomas Levet. (MB)

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