It’s still too early to analyze the play at this year’s U.S. Open, but it’s not too soon to parse the pairings. The USGA has a reputation for kickstarting storylines with their tee times, so here are 10 groups that caught our eye.
7:51 a.m. / 1:36 p.m.: Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed
Each of these three likely Ryder Cuppers has enough game to win a U.S. Open, but maybe they should spend their time discussing how to win at Hazeltine instead.
8:13 a.m / 1:58 p.m.: Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald
Golf’s a fickle game. In case you forgot, consider what these three have in common: all former World No. 1s.
8:24 a.m. / 2:09 p.m.: Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Rickie Fowler
This trio of 20-somethings features a four-time major winner, the reigning Masters champ, and a fan favorite who has long seemed on the verge of breaking through. Nah, no expectations here.
8:35 a.m. / 2:20 p.m.: Zach Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth
A major championship reunion for Spieth and DeChambeau, two young guns who also played together at this year’s Masters. Throw in two-time major champ Zach Johnson for good measure, and three’s a charm.
1:47 p.m. / 8:02 a.m.: Geoff Ogilvy, Graeme McDowell, Webb Simpson
Each of these 30-somethings has a single major title to his name. Any guess as to which tournament it was?
1:58 p.m. / 8:13 a.m.: Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Angel Cabrera
Slightly later tee time, slightly older players. Those 30-something U.S. Open winners are barely off and along comes a trio of 40-something title holders. Two of them (Els and Cabrera) won right here at Oakmont.
2:09 p.m. / 8:24 a.m.: Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson
A former U.S. Open winner; a six-time U.S. Open runner up; and a man considered by many as the best player to never win a major.
2:20 p.m. / 8:35 a.m.: Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott
We know what you’re thinking. They’re all from Australia. And you’re wrong. Oosthuizen hails from South Africa. Here’s the deal: Day won the PGA Championship, Oosthuizen claimed a claret jug, and Scott nabbed a green jacket. So they’ve all got majors. Just not this one.
2:20 p.m. / 8:35 a.m.: Retief Goosen, Keegan Bradley, Lucas Glover
Both Goosen and Bradley used to roll the rock with an anchored putter, while Glover was so bedeviled by his flatstick last year that he switched to left-hand low. Is this just part of a cruel experiment to put them all together on the world’s toughest greens? Time will tell.