Rory, Ernie and Rickie

Reigning U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland will play the first two rounds of the 2011 Open Championship with South Africa's Ernie Els and Rickie Fowler of the United States.


Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy will be looking to make it two straight majors won at Royal St. George's. (Getty Images)

SANDWICH, England (AP) -- Coming off a record-breaking win at the U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy is paired with Ernie Els and Rickie Fowler for the first two rounds of the British Open.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman posted a 16-under last month at Congressional. He's favored to make it two majors in a row at Royal St. George's.

Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa will play the first two rounds with American star Phil Mickelson and defending PGA champion Martin Kaymer.

The world's top-ranked player, England's Luke Donald, is paired Thursday and Friday with Ryo Ishikawa and Sergio Garcia. Donald solidified his spot in the rankings with a four-stroke victory this past weekend at the Scottish Open.