All eyes will be on Dustin Johnson when the U.S. Open gets underway Thursday at Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin.
Johnson won the U.S. Open championship a year ago, and he is the top-ranked FedEx Cup player as well as the No. 1 player in the world. The 32-year-old is the favorite to win the tournament (per OddsShark) again this year because of his prodigious power and shot-making skills, and the golfing world wants to see if Johnson can do it again.
There's another reason that the South Carolina native is the central figure in this tournament. In the days leading up to the Masters in April, Johnson was in the same position for that tournament. He was playing well, he had broken through the major barrier and it was clear he had a great shot to win the green jacket.
But instead of a 72-hole coronation, Johnson did not even play. Just a couple of days before the Masters, Johnson took a fall in the home he was renting, and he suffered a back injury that prevented him participating in the tournament.
He didn't have any long-term injuries, and he has put the withdrawal behind him, but now he comes to the second major of the year, and it's time for him to show the golf world that he is a strong enough player to make another big-time run at what has regularly been the most challenging tournament of the year.
Start Date: Thursday, June 15
End Date: Sunday, June 18
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2017 U.S. Open tee times, pairings for Thursday (All tee times ET)
Tee No. 1
7:45 a.m.—Jordan Niebrugge, Talor Gooch, Kevin Dougherty
7:56 a.m.—Andres Romero, Brice Garnett, Davis Love IV
8:07 a.m.—Yusaku Miyazato, J.T. Poston, Aaron Rai
8:18 a.m.—David Lingmerth, Paul Dunne, Haotong Li
8:29 a.m.—Stewart Hagestad, Chez Reavie, Gene Sauers
8:40 a.m.—Brandt Snedeker, Alex Noren, Tyrrell Hatton
8:51 a.m.—Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Brooks Koepka
9:02 a.m.—Gary Woodland, J.B. Holmes, Jason Kokrak
9:13 a.m.—Russell Knox, Scott Gregory, Martin Laird
9:24 a.m.—Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, Branden Grace
9:35 a.m.—Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Lucas Glover
9:46 a.m.—Tyson Alexander, Christopher Crawford, Max Greyserman
9:57 a.m.—Matthew Campbell, Garrett Osborn, Walker Lee
1:30 p.m.—Jack Maguire, Corey Conners, Ben Kohles
1:41 p.m.—Eddie Pepperell, Chan Kim, Gregory Bourdy
1:52 p.m.—Jhonattan Vegas, Yuta Ikeda, Sean O'Hair
2:03 p.m.—Andrew Johnston, Brian Stuard, George Coetzee
2:14 p.m.—Marc Leishman, Pat Perez, Si Woo Kim
2:25 p.m.—Russell Henley, Scottie Scheffler, Harris English
2:36 p.m.—Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia
2:47 p.m.—Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen
2:58 p.m.—Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey
3:09 p.m.—Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy
3:20 p.m.—Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink, Phil Mickelson
3:31 p.m.—Ryan Brehm, John Oda, Jonathan Randolph
3:42 p.m.—Mason Andersen, Derek Barron, Roman Robledo
Tee No. 10
7:45 a.m.—Ted Potter Jr., Daniel Chopra, Meen Whee Kim
7:56 a.m.—Shugo Imahira, Matthew Wallace, Ryan Palmer
8:07 a.m.—Charley Hoffman, Jason Dufner, Hideto Tanihara
8:18 a.m.—Jeunghun Wang, Thomas Aiken, Bradley Dredge
8:29 a.m.—Scott Harvey, Jamie Lovemark, Michael Putnam
8:40 a.m.—Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood, Bud Cauley
8:51 a.m.—Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm
9:02 a.m.—Lee Westwood, Ross Fisher, Graeme McDowell
9:13 a.m.—Danny Willett, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera
9:24 a.m.—Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed
9:35 a.m.—Martin Kaymer, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson
9:46 a.m.—Joaquin Niemann, Stephan Jaeger, Joel Stalter
9:57 a.m.—Daniel Miernicki, Sahith Theegala, Tyler Light
1:30 p.m.—Wade Ormsby, Oliver Bekker, Kyle Thompson
1:41 p.m.—Brandon Stone, Troy Merritt, Chris Wood
1:52 p.m.—Satoshi Kodaira, Daniel Summerhays, Alexander Levy
2:03 p.m.—William McGirt, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Na
2:14 p.m.—Brad Dalke, Wesley Bryan, Brendan Steele
2:25 p.m.—Nick Flanagan, Richie Ramsay, Bryson DeChambeau
2:36 p.m.—Daniel Berger, Roberto Castro, Bill Haas
2:47 p.m.—Adam Hadwin, Emiliano Grillo, Cheng-Tsung Pan
2:58 p.m.—Scott Piercy, Shane Lowry, Jim Furyk
3:09 p.m.—Matthew Fitzpatrick, Peter Uihlein, Byeong Hun An
3:20 p.m.—Kevin Chappell, Maverick McNealy, Bernd Wiesberger
3:31 p.m.—Xander Schauffele, Trey Mullinax, Cameron Champ
3:42 p.m.—Sam Ryder, Alex Smalley, Andy Pope
Johnson will tee off at 9:35 a.m. ET Thursday along with Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer, and that will be one of the featured grounds during the first two days of the tournament.
Spieth also has a U.S. Open Championship to his credit, having won the tournament two years ago when Johnson was unable to hold on to a late lead. Kaymer has not played regularly on the tour this year, but he is a steely player who can reel off a string of birdies when he is hot.
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Someone to keep an eye on this week: @RickieFowler. He's at the top of this week's @FootJoy #FantasyGolf list. https://t.co/qkMLr5Grfz2017-6-7 22:00:07
Golf fans may want to start watching at 8:51 a.m., because that's when one of the top groups is teeing off at the Wisconsin course. Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm are playing together, and all three of those players have a shot to win. They are all ranked within the top eight of the FedEx Cup, and it would be a surprise if at least one of those players was not near the top of the leaderboard going into the final round.
The pairing of Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel and Branden Grace may not have the star power of the two just mentioned, but these players have a chance to make a contending run at Erin Hills.
Kisner and Horschel both won on the recently completed Texas swing of the PGA Tour, while Grace has been in the top five of each of the last two U.S. Opens. Those three tee off at 9:24 a.m.
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Sergio Garcia hungry for more major success ahead of the #USOpen: https://t.co/HevlCG8TsR #GolfOnSky https://t.co/WXdFQoinJy2017-6-13 18:02:48
Masters champion Sergio Garcia had the biggest moment of his career when he won the green jacket at the Masters earlier this spring, and he will try to earn the rare Masters-U.S. Open double when he tees off at 2:36 p.m.
The Spaniard will be playing with Bubba Watson and Adam Scott, and this high-profile trio is bound to have a strong following as the players make their way around Erin Hills. Watson has been having a poor year as he ranks 106th in the FedEx Cup rankings, while Scott has slowed a bit after a fast start in 2017.
Jason Day, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy will tee off at 3:09 p.m., and the sun will have had a chance to bake the Erin Hills course by that time. Day won the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, and returning to this state should bring back excellent memories. That PGA title is the only major title on his resume.
Rose chased Garcia at the Masters and finished second, while McIlroy is trying to battle back from a rib injury that has kept him out of action recently.
Keep your eye on the pairing of Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink and Phil Mickelson, who are scheduled to tee off at 3:20 p.m.
Stricker is a Wisconsin native who is sure to have a huge following as he plays in his home state, while Cink qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2014. Mickelson may or may not play, as he is going to his daughter's graduation, and he won't play if he is not back to the Erin Hills track in time to make his tee off. Roberto Diaz is the first alternate, and he will play if Mickelson has to withdraw.