With less than 24 hours (as long as the weather cooperates) until the first tee shots are hit at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, analysis of the pairings for the first two rounds is running rampant. I always find it incredibly interesting to see who gets grouped together in the first two rounds, as the organizers of most events try to do their best to keep the groups entertaining.
Any time that Tiger Woods plays an event his playing partners should prepare to draw the biggest crowds of the week. In what is probably the most talked about group this week, the top three golfers in the world are playing the first two rounds together, as Woods tees it up with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott. The Aussie has discussed being the “third wheel” in the group, but I think that could actually benefit his game as the lion’s share of the attention goes to Woods and McIlroy.
The first group off of the 11th tee on Thursday boasts some of the longest hitters in the game. I can’t wait to see how the Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Nicolas Colsaerts attempt to balance their length with the shorter, tighter layout of Merion. If they can keep it in the fairway, spectators should be in for a treat. If not, these guys are going to be in for a long couple of days and will struggle to make the cut.
Three of the pre-tournament favorites will be getting things going early on Thursday. Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley are going off of the first tee at 7:11 am on the first day. It wouldn’t be a surprise for any of these three to pull out a victory. Mickelson has been a runner-up on five occasions and much has been made of his decision to attend his daughter’s eighth grade graduation and skip practice rounds at Merion.
One of the groups featuring a trio of young golfers that have already found varying amounts of success is the 8:06 grouping off of the 11th tee. Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassero and Jason Day should keep fashion experts busy. These guys are part of the group that is becoming the new face of the game and should provide more than a few exciting moments over the first two rounds.