Rory McIlroy, another player who can expect plenty of backing from the sold-out crowd, was due to tee off at 10.09 am local time (0909 GMT) in a group with 2019 U.S. Open victor Gary Woodland and England's Paul Casey.
He was joined by playing partner James Sugrue, the Amateur Championship victor from Ireland, who left his eagle attempt at the second just short.
An hour into his round the first of the rain arrived to increase the difficulty level at Royal Portrush, hosting its first Open since 1951. He birdied the first two holes and was 11 over through eight.
"It is unbelievable to think 40 years on that it is such a great place, no-one cares who they are, there they're from, what background they're from, but you can have a great life and it doesn't matter what side of the street you come from", he said.
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It was the first time in 159 years of the British Open that tickets had to be purchased in advance, including two practice rounds.
Tiger Woods will kick-off his campaign at 3.10pm. That was a record which he set as a 16-year-old. I've played well on this golf course. Irishman Padraig Harrington is the last to win back-to-back Open Championships when he did so in 2007 and 2008.
He hit a brilliant approach to three feet at the short third for his second birdie of the day and the outright lead again.
30-year-old, whose Open form figures read fifth, fourth, second since he was unable to defend his title at St Andrews in 2015 due to an ankle injury sustained while playing football.