The golf gods couldn’t have planned it better themselves. The pairings for next week’s U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club were announced today, headlined of course by world No. 1 Tiger Woods. As is customary at the U.S. Open, the top three players in the world are grouped together for Thursday and Friday’s rounds. It just so happens those players are Woods, former No. 1 Rory McIlroy and this year’s Masters champion Adam Scott.
Normally, the Woods-McIlroy pairing would draw the attention of golf fans around the world. After all, the two have never been paired together at a major championship, and most consider them the two best players in the world at this point. However, it’s Scott, and particularly his brash caddie Stevie Williams, who will make these two rounds must see TV.
Williams was Woods’ longtime caddie and confidant. However, the two famously split in 2011, after Williams caddied for Scott in three tournaments while Woods was out with an injury. Following his dismissal, Williams was critical of Woods, especially his well-publicized extra marital affair. The pair who had once been fiercely loyal to one another, began taking veiled shots at one another in the media.
It was only a matter of time until Woods and Scott were paired together, but the timing is not ideal for Woods, who is desperately seeking to hoist another major championship trophy. Under normal circumstances, the media attention surrounding Woods at majors is overwhelming … now with this additional storyline, it’s likely to be insane. Every handshake will be televised and analyzed. Pre-tournament interviews will be centered around their relationship, past and present. It’s not what Woods needs as he tries to get back to winning majors.
Even McIlroy acknowledged the pairing was unique as he took to Twitter, saying:
Decent group for the first 2 rounds at Merion I see….
— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) June 7, 2013
It was going to be a dramatic week in Philadelphia next week anyway, but this pairing ratchets up the intensity exponentially. Can Woods keep his composure and put himself in position to contend on the weekend? Or will the media storm be too much to take? We’ll find out soon enough.
B.L. is a sports writer for Rant Sports and can be followed @coachlip.