Matt Wallace admits he thought he was the victim of a wind-up after finding out he will play the first two rounds of the Open Championship with his hero Tiger Woods.

The Moor Park Golf Club honorary member will partner 15-time major winner Woods and former Masters champion Patrick Reed in front of sell-out crowds for the opening two days at Royal Portrush as the Open returns to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.

"I got a text about the draw a bit before it came out and I was just searching through and saw my name and thought it was a bit of a spoof," the 29-year-old Hillingdon-born professional said.

"I actually thought it was a wind-up because of the time it was (3.10pm on Thursday) and thought Tiger would be playing at that time.

"It's a proud moment to play with him in an Open. Hopefully I can stick to my game plan and produce in front of him. Massively this is a dream come true. He is my hero and I am playing with him in an Open.

"It caps everything, it is probably the biggest moment in my career to date, a reward for all the hard work I have done. Hopefully it can kick me on for the rest of my career.

"It's fantastic. Playing with Patrick Reed as well, it's a brilliant group. This is my second Open and I was lucky to play with Padraig (Harrington) and Bubba Watson in my first and now this."

Wallace missed the cut at Carnoustie last year but finished 19th in the US PGA Championship the following month at Bellerive - where he made a hole-in-one while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the third round - and was third behind Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson in the same event in May.

The four-time European Tour winner also played alongside Koepka on his way to a tie for 12th in the US Open at Pebble Beach and believes he is capable of adding a major title to his increasingly impressive CV.

"With a major it's so difficult, unless you're Brooks, to go in there actually believing you can win," Wallace added.

"What I do know is that I'm playing some seriously good golf at the moment and Chubby (Chandler, his manager), who has seen multiple major winners, is telling me my game is set up to win majors and that gives me confidence.

"It's difficult myself to believe it when my best performance at the start of the year was 19th in a major, but now finishing third and 12th, and playing with Brooks at Pebble I was really happy with my attitude there.

"It was the proudest I've ever been on a golf course because I was three over after nine holes and managed to eagle the last to shoot level par with the world number one and four-time major champion.

"I nearly shed a tear at the end when I gave my girlfriend a hug because I was so proud of how I reacted out there.

"I feel that I'm ready to win a major championship. Will it be this year? Who knows? This is something that will take maybe a bit of time but I do see myself winning a major within hopefully the next few years."

Wallace spent two days practising at Portrush at the start of last week, making the most of the local knowledge of former Open champion and stablemate Darren Clarke.

"When you get there and see the grandstands, the enormity of it all really hits you. It's seriously impressive," Wallace added.

"Darren in his own gentle way was often saying 'don't go left, don't go right, don't be long and don't be short!'

"It's classic Clarkey but he's right. You have to flush it, you have to be straight and have seriously got to be on point."