The United States Golf Association sure knows how to create some exciting, compelling and just plain fun pairings for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open. Don't forget their sense of humor either, letting the golfers begin either their morning or afternoon round at Congressional's 10th tee, a par-3 over water. What a bunch of jokesters.
Back to their excellence in formulating pairings. In addition to the traditional pairing of defending Open champion, amateur champion and British Open champion, the USGA created a gallery-moving force this year, teaming Phil Mickelson with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. Those groups are great, and have been discussed, but frankly I'm more interested in what the USGA did in grouping major champions and countrymen together.
Three former Masters champs will play together: 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel, 2008 winner Trevor Immelman (both from South Africa) and 2007 champ Zach Johnson. The threesome of Padraig Harrington, Angel Cabrera and Stewart Cink has won a combined six major championships. The group of veteran winners I am most interested in? Ernie Els, winner of the Open last time it was held at Congressional in 1997, Davis Love III (1997 PGA winner) and Jim Furyk, U.S. Open champion in 2003.
I can't claim to be an expert on U.S. Open pairings, so I am not sure if this is the first time they have done this, but the USGA also created some specific international pairings. Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Alvaro Quiros, all from Spain, will play together in rounds one and two while Italians Matteo Manassero, Edoardo Molinari and Francesco Molinari will also play together (the Molinaris are in fact brothers). I like these groupings, but I am a little curious what the golfers think of them? I'd kill my brother after two holes of golf, let alone two rounds in the DC heat and humidity.
A full list of tee times can be found here.