Irish Open organizers know where their bread is buttered and they didn't disappoint Tuesday when they released groupings for this year's event at storied Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
Hometown boy Graeme McDowell is grouped with Irishman Padraig Harrington and 2011 Irish Open champion Simon Dyson. They tee off at 2:50 a.m. ET on the 10th hole. Two groups ahead of them, John Daly is grouped with Peter Lawrie and Thomas Levet.
The key group in the afternoon is PGA champion Keegan Bradley, Rory McIlroy and Branden Grace. McIlroy made the decision earlier this year that he would support his native Open instead of playing in the AT&T National at Congressional, which is where he romped the field last summer to win the U.S. Open. This group tees off the first hole at 7:50 a.m. ET. In front of them is Portrush resident Darren Clarke, who is grouped with Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
It's no secret that Royal Portrush wishes to host another British Open and this week is said to be a trial run for the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews to see how it stacks up against the other courses in the Open rota. Portrush last hosted the Open in 1951.