British Open Begins with McIlroy as Heavy Favorite

Posted July 14th, 2011 at 3:15 am (UTC-5)
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The 140th British Open is underway at the legendary Royal St. Georges golf course, with U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy the favorite to win his second straight major of the 2011 season.

American Jerry Kelly hit a solid drive off the first tee shortly after dawn under cloudy skies and light rain to begin the four-day tournament, the third major of the season.

McIlroy, the 22-year-old sensation from Northern Ireland who won last month's U.S. Open by eight strokes, will tee off later Thursday morning in a group with South Africa's Ernie Els and American Rickie Fowler. McIlroy has captured the imagination of the golf world in the absence of American Tiger Woods, who is sitting out the British Open with knee and back injuries.

World number one Luke Donald is playing in a group directly behind McIlroy, while defending British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen will tee off later Thursday afternoon.