The sleeper pick is Padraig Harrington.
The Ryder Cup specialist, who has never won a Major, endured a frustrating 2016 due to injuries and had to come through qualifying to earn his place in the tournament.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy and American Phil Mickelson, runner-up to Stenson previous year, were among the late starters with conditions expected to ease. We have had a good run of first time major winners lately but I am taking a strong look at defending champion Henrik Stenson. The 156 player field takes to the course early Thursday morning and I will give you 5 to watch. The 26-year-old Englishman is actually from Southport himself, so the chances are he knows the course intimately.
"When you're not playing good and the course is playing pretty tough out there ... the great thing about Birkdale, even when the weather is really trying, and I've seen it way, way worse than this, you can still get it around Birkdale, which I think shows the quality of the golf course out there". "It was just a matter of time for them".
As for contending for the Claret Jug at Birkdale this week, McIlroy feels his game is trending on an upward curve. "I'm still as ambitious now as I was starting off my career, if not more so, because I know what I've achieved and I can achieve", he said. "It seems like today we played a lot of in and across", he said.
McIlroy, who has missed the cut in three of his last four starts, had to wait until 2:48pm to begin his campaign for a fifth major title and was wary of being caught on the "wrong" side of the draw.
After a blistering start to his Open Championship charge, the focus will remain on Spieth and the maintenance of his form. In 1998, Birkdale crowned the 41-year-old Mark O'Meara, although a fresh-faced 17-year-old Justin Rose finished fourth as an amateur.
Birkdale is hosting The Open for the 10th time all told, with Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer among the former champions here. He and playing partners Scotland's Russell Knox and Sweden's Alex Noren became the first group to hit the green at the par four first hole in the regulation two shots.