Former champion O'Meara gets Open under way at Royal Birkdale

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The 146th Open Championship began at Royal Birkdale on Thursday, with former champion Mark O'Meara hitting the first shot of the tournament.

O'Meara secured the Claret Jug with an aggregate score of level par when the Southport course hosted The Open in 1998.

Now 60, the American had the honour of getting proceedings under way on this occasion in damp and breezy conditions, with dark clouds hovering overhead.

And O'Meara made a difficult start, spraying his tee shot into the rough and out of bounds.

His follow-up effort was not much better as he found the bunker.

The likes of Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson - the winner at Royal Troon 12 months ago - were among notable morning starters on England's north-west coast, due out together at 09:47 local time (08:47 GMT).

Padraig Harrington, victorious on The Open's most recent visit to Birkdale in 2008, was in the group before Spieth and Stenson, while the likes of Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm were all set to begin their campaigns later in the day.