By Ed Osmond
SOUTHPORT, England (Reuters) - Americans Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth are the bookmakers' favorites to win the British Open, which starts at Royal Birkdale on Thursday.
World number one Johnson is among the later starters in a group including Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, the world number four, who is seeking to lift the Claret Jug for a second time.
Spieth, third in the rankings and twice a major winner, will tee off alongside Swedish defending champion Henrik Stenson.
World number two Hideki Matsuyama of Japan will play the opening two rounds in the company of U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and England's Tommy Fleetwood, the local favorite who is ranked 14th.
Experienced American Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion who lost an epic final-round duel with Stenson at Troon 12 months ago, is also among the late starters.
American Mark O'Meara, Open champion in 1998, is due to strike the first tee shot at 0635 local time (0535 GMT).
(Editing by David Goodman)