It looks like the first two days of the U.S. Open will be even more watchable than usual. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Bubba Watson will play in the same group for the opening two rounds of the U.S. Open next weekend in San Francisco.
It will be the first time Woods and Mickelson have been paired together at the U.S. Open since the USGA started grouping players based on world ranking at Torrey Pines in 2008. Woods won at the Memorial last weekend, which makes him one of the favorites at The Olympic Club next week.
Mickelson bowed out of the Memorial citing mental fatigue, but was apparently ticked off by unchecked cellphone use by spectators at the venue.
Lefty was actually playing with Watson when he withdrew from the Memorial, so this will be the second-straight event the two crowd-pleasing players have been in the same trio. Woods will join them in what could be a group with the biggest gallery in golf history. But there are a few other fantastic groups as well.
Defending U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy – who is currently the world’s No. 2 player – will be grouped with world No. 1 Luke Donald and No. 3 Lee Westwood.
Koreans K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang and K.T. Kim will be grouped together, while Carl Pettersson, Charl Schwartzel and Charles Howell III will also be an interesting group. Two groups full of former major champions are also on the list. One boasts Davis Love III, Padraig Harrington and David Toms, while the other has Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera, who have all won the U.S. Open.
The final grouping that caught my eye was the trio of Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Ryo Ishikawa.
Grouping star players together is certainly a way to increase ratings and make the tournament more entertaining to watch. I’ll certainly pay attention to the first two days now for sure.