Scoring won’t come easy at Merion Golf Club this weekend. With rain-soaked fairways that are among the tightest we’re likely to see on tour this season, don’t expect to see many early-round scores in the mid-60s when the U.S. Open gets underway.
But Merion will also be playing just under 7,000 yards at par 70 for the weekend, and precision will be the name of the game—even for big-hitters like Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. The track won’t demand length off the tee, but it will require accurate ball-striking and a little luck.
For Mickelson especially, that will be a tall order. He’s in pursuit of his first U.S. Open victory after finishing second five times in his career (and playing some tremendous golf right now), but accuracy off the tee isn’t exactly his forte.
Along with Mickelson, world No. 1 Tiger Woods will be in search of his first U.S. Open victory in five years, the last of which also happens to be his most recent major championship win. With Woods’ pursuit of the all-time majors record entering the back end of his career, it’s time for the 37-year-old to get back into the swing of things.
Let’s take a look at first-round pairings for both golfers as well as the rest of the field and highlight the best groups to watch on Day 1 of the U.S. Open.
Television Coverage (all times ET)
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on ESPN
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on NBC
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on ESPN
Streaming: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at USOpen.com
|1||Cliff Kresge, Roger Tambellini, Ryan Yip||6:45 a.m.|
|2||Rikard Karlberg, Yui Ueda, John Parry||6:56 a.m.|
|3||Nick Watney, Peter Hanson, Hunter Mahan||7:07 a.m.|
|4||Lucas Glover, Paul Casey, Bill Haas||7:18 a.m.|
|5||Aaron Baddeley, Rory Sabbatini, David Lingmerth||7:29 a.m.|
|6||George Coetzee, Martin Laird, Marcel Siem||7:40 a.m.|
|7||Jerry Kelly, Charley Hoffman, John Huh||7:51 a.m.|
|8||Henrik Stenson, Ryan Moore, Robert Garrigus||8:02 a.m.|
|9||Ryan Palmer, Simon Khan, Ted Potter Jr.||8:13 a.m.|
|10||Shawn Stefani, Michael Kim, Nicholas Thompson||8;24 a.m.|
|11||Chris Doak, Andrew Svoboda, Douglas LaBelle II||8:35 a.m.|
|12||Kevin Sutherland, Matt Weibring, Randall Hutchison||8:46 a.m.|
|13||Cory McElyea, Ryan Nelson, John Hahn||8:57 a.m.|
|14||David Toms, Darren Clarke, Jose Maria Olazabal||12:30 p.m.|
|15||Geoff Ogilvy, Angel Cabrera, Paul Lawrie||12:41 p.m.|
|16||Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer||12:52 p.m.|
|17||Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell, Zach Johnson||1:03 p.m.|
|18||Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott||1:14 p.m.|
|19||Thongchai Jaidee. G. Fernandez-Castano, Thorbjorn Olesen||1:25 p.m.|
|20||Webb Simpson, Steven Fox, Ernie Els||1:36 p.m.|
|21||Kyle Stanley, Joe Ogilvi, Luke Guthrie||1:47 p.m.|
|22||Josh Teater, Yoshinobu Tsukada, Eddie Pepperell||1:58 p.m.|
|23||Edward Loar, Morten Orum Madsen, Jung-Gon Hwang||2:09 p.m.|
|24||Max Homa, Russell Knox, Matt Bettencourt||2:20 p.m.|
|25||Adam Hadwin, John Nieporte, Jim Herman||2:31 p.m.|
|26||Brandon Brown, Grayson Murray, Jesse Smith||2:42 p.m.|
|27||Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Nicolas Colsaerts||7:00 a.m.|
|28||Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley||7:11 a.m.|
|29||Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker||7:22 a.m.|
|30||Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Tim Clark||7:33 a.m.|
|31||Sergio Garcia, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington||7:44 a.m.|
|32||Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Boo Weekley||7:55 a.m.|
|33||Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassero, Jason Day||8:06 a.m.|
|34||Y.E. Yang, Fredrik Jacobson, Hiroyuki Fujita||8:17 a.m.|
|35||Scott Stallings, John Peterson, Robert Karlsson||8:28 a.m.|
|36||Jay Don Blake, Brandt Jobe, Michael Campbell||8:39 a.m.|
|37||David Hearn, Mike Weir, Jaco Van Zyl||8:50 a.m.|
|38||Kevin Phelan, Wil Collins, Harold Varner III||9:01 a.m.|
|39||Cheng-Tsung Pan, Mackenzie Hughes, Geoffrey Sisk||9:12 a.m.|
|40||Justin Hicks, David Howell, Brian Stuard||12:45 p.m.|
|41||Brendan Steele, Estanislao Goya, Peter Hedblom||12:56 p.m.|
|42||Marc Leishman, John Senden, Marcus Fraser||1:07 p.m.|
|43||Scott Langley, Chris Williams, Morgan Hoffmann||1:18 p.m.|
|44||Michael Thompson, Michael Weaver, Casey Wittenberg||1:29 p.m.|
|45||K.J. Choi, Francesco Molinari, Carl Pettersson||1:40 p.m.|
|46||Scott Piercy, Kevin Chappell, Jamie Donaldson||1:51 p.m.|
|47||Bo Van Pelt, Kevin Streelman, D.A. Points||2:02 p.m.|
|48||Branden Grace, Sang-Moon Bae, Russell Henley||2;13 p.m.|
|49||Hideki Matsuyama, Billy Horschel, Jordan Spieth||2:24 p.m.|
|50||Mathew Goggin, Steven Alker, Alistair Presnell||2:35 p.m.|
|51||Matt Harmon, Gavin Hall, Bio Kim||2:46 p.m.|
|52||Zack Fischer, Ryan Sullivan, Brandon Crick||2:57 p.m.|
Group 29: Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker
For a trio that doesn’t get enough love when major tournaments come around, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker are certainly making a case for extra attention this weekend.
Kuchar has been tremendous of late, notching a second-place finish at the Crowne Plaza Invitational and a win at the Memorial Tournament—his second PGA Tour win of the season. While Rose and Snedeker both have the talent to contend for a U.S. Open title this weekend, Kuchar should be the favorite of the group.
But Rose hasn’t exactly gotten off to a bad start to the season, either. The 32-year-old has yet to finish outside the top 25 in any tournament this year, adding four top-10 finishes to his resume in the process. With an eighth-place finish at the Memorial Tournament, Rose proved he’ll be ready to tackle Merion this weekend.
And of course there’s the best putter on tour as well.
Snedeker works the flat stick better than almost anyone on the planet, and his performance early in the 2013 season proved that. But in his last two tournaments, Snedeker has failed to make the cut, and he’ll have a lot to prove on the big stage this weekend.
With three top-eight golfers in the group (according to world rankings), Group 29 will be a can’t-miss pairing on Thursday.
Group 18: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott
Very little needs to be said about Group 18. But I’ll say it anyway.
When the top three players in the world are paired together, there’s no reason not to take notice. The storylines are almost endless.
Woods in on the hunt for his first major victory since 2008. McIlroy is in search of his first tour win of the season. Scott is the only man in the field who can complete the Grand Slam this year.
With groups like this, the hype often overshadows the fact that it’s hard to win any major. Really hard.
But Group 18 also provides the most intrigue and tremendously talented golfers we’ll see this weekend, and it’s hard to not take notice. One way or another, someone in this group is going to shine at Merion.