US Open 2014: Breaking Down The Opening Round Pairings

U.S. Open 2014: Breaking Down The First Round Pairings

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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This year's U.S. Open has even more storylines to follow than normal. Still caught up in an insider trading scandal, Phil Mickelson searches for his elusive major. After ending his high-profile relationship, Rory McIlroy has been playing great golf. Bubba Watson seems primed to become golf's next superstar. Only one can win, and that all starts with the first round pairings.

Morning Wave 1

Brasil Champions Presented by HSBC - Final Round
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Morning Wave 1

Brasil Champions Presented by HSBC - Final Round
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Daniel Berger
Brett Stegmaier
(a) Cameron Wilson

There isn't a whole lot of firepower in this grouping, but Wilson is an intriguing amateur. Berger and Stegmaier respectively will be looking to make a name for themselves.

Morning Wave 2

BMW PGA Championship - Previews
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Morning Wave 2

BMW PGA Championship - Previews
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Marcel Siem
Brian Stuard
Andrea Pavan

Pavan seems like the most likely dark horse candidate out of this group. If anyone from this group is going to make a run, watch out for Pavan, it could be him.

Morning Wave 3

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Round One
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Morning Wave 3

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Round One
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Matt Every
Roberto Castro
Matt Jones

Castro is a golfer who can go on runs at times and that could make him dangerous in this tournament. With so many competitors in the field, that streakiness could put him toward the top.

Morning Wave 4

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Morning Wave 4

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Sergio Garcia
Jason Day
Brandt Snedeker

This is the first group with a little star power. All of these golfers have a chance to be competing on the Sunday, but Garcia and Snedeker are the most likely to compete. Garcia has been clutch in similar tournaments in the past, so look for him to make a run.

Morning Wave 5

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Morning Wave 5

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Henrik Stenson
Matt Kuchar
Lee Westwood

Kuchar and Westwood have had success in various tournaments in the past, but will really have to step up to compete in this one. Both seem to be up and comers and a U.S. Open win would certainly speed up that process.

Morning Wave 6

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Morning Wave 6

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Webb Simpson
Rory McIlroy
Graeme McDowell

Obviously, all eyes will be on McIlroy in this group. He's playing some of the best golf of his life right now, and a U.S. Open win could give him even more momentum. After hitting a lull last season, he's once again living up to his potential.

Morning Wave 7

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Morning Wave 7

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Ian Poulter
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Thongchai Jaidee

Poulter seems like the best golfer out of this group and definitely the one with best chance to make some noise. Jimenez is still establishing himself and Jaidee would be a surprise.

Morning Wave 8

Nordea Masters - Day One
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Morning Wave 8

Nordea Masters - Day One
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Nick Watney
Jonas Blixt
Joost Luiten

Another relatively nameless group, but Watney and Blixt could surprise. As long as they can strategize well in a notoriously hard tournament, their execution could make them contenders.

Morning Wave 9

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round Two
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Morning Wave 9

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round Two
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Billy Horschel
Billy Hurley III
Robert Allenby

These three will have a tough road into contention on Sunday, but we've learned before that you just never know. Allenby could be a potential dark horse, but none seem likely to contend.

Morning Wave 10

Web.com Tour Championship - Final Round
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Morning Wave 10

Web.com Tour Championship - Final Round
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Aaron Baddeley
(a) Oliver Goss
Aron Price

It's always exciting when an amateur qualifies for a big-time golf tournament and that's the case with Goss this season. He's still coming into his own, but his performance at this tournament could make sure he's not an amateur for long.

Morning Wave 11

Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun - Round Two
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Morning Wave 11

Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun - Round Two
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Tom Lewis
Craig Barlow
Justin Thomas

There aren't any exciting names here, and similarly aren't many legitimate contenders. Normally, golfers from groups like this will try to compete as long as they can in order to put more money in their pockets and gain momentum for future tournaments.

Morning Wave 12

Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com - Round One
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Morning Wave 12

Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com - Round One
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(a) Robby Shelton
Matthew Dobyns
Brady Watt

For golfers from this group to compete, they will have to execute perfectly in their mid-range games. They're not as flashy as some of the other big names, so they will have to be very technically sound in order to be playing for something on Sunday.

Morning Wave 13

Stadion Classic at UGA - Round Two
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Morning Wave 13

Stadion Classic at UGA - Round Two
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Clayton Rask
(a) Brian Campbell
Nicholas Mason

There's some surprise potential here even though none of these golfers are household names. Not in big tournaments, but these golfers have shown they have the ability to come up big at times. Only time will tell if any of them can turn it on for one of the biggest tournaments of the year.

Morning Wave 14

Cox Classic Presented by Lexus of Omaha
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Morning Wave 14

Cox Classic Presented by Lexus of Omaha
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Henrik Norlander
Lucas Bjerregaard
Rob Oppenheim

This group certainly has some interesting names, if nothing else. Most of these guys will be battling to stay above the cut, but have some upside should they reach the final round of play.

Morning Wave 15

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Round One
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Morning Wave 15

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Round One
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Chad Collins
Kyoung-Hoon Lee
Kevin Kisner

One guy from this group who could make some noise is Kisner. Not many fans know a lot about him, but his technically sound game plays well in this tournament, and it wouldn't be a huge surprise if he was in the running in the last two days of the tournament.

Morning Wave 16

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round One
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Morning Wave 16

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round One
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Erik Compton
Pablo Larrazabal
Scott Langley

In another early tee off without big names, this group presents little excitement. If one golfer could sneak out of this group, the best bet would be Larrazabal.

Morning Wave 17

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Final Round
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Morning Wave 17

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Final Round
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Patrick Reed
Ryan Moore
Kevin Na

Na is looking to get over the hump in his career. He has the ability to do just that by winning this tournament, and it's not out of the question to think he's capable of doing just that.

Morning Wave 18

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Round Two
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Morning Wave 18

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Round Two
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Boo Weekley
D.A. Points
Stephen Gallacher

This could be the tournament that Weekly finally breaks out. He will surely need to polish the finer points of his game for this weekend, but his career trajectory seems to be ready to take off.

Morning Wave 19

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round Two
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Morning Wave 19

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round Two
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Zach Johnson
Angel Cabrera
David Toms

Another solid group, Johnson and Cabrera are two candidates to be playing for something on Sunday. Johnson is amongst a handful of golfers trying to become the next face of golf, and a win this weekend would go a long way toward helping him achieve that goal.

Morning Wave 20

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Morning Wave 20

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Justin Rose
(a) Matthew Fitzpatrick
Phil Mickelson

This may be the most intriguing grouping of the first rounds of the tournament. Mickelson will try to finally win the tournament that has eluded him, and Rose has a solid chance to compete as well.

Morning Wave 21

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Morning Wave 21

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Chris Kirk
Russell Henley
Brendon Todd

This guys aren't a star-studded group and if someone is going to make it to Sunday out of them, it's likely to be Henley. Nonetheless, each will have to overachieve in order to be in the discussion over the last two days of the tournament.

Morning Wave 22

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Morning Wave 22

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Jordan Spieth
Hideki Matsuyama
Rickie Fowler

Another really interesting grouping, where multiple golfers should be competing in the final two days of the tournament. The ever-entertaining Fowler seems to come to play for tournaments like this, and Spieth has really burst onto the scene lately, so look for golfers from this group to make some noise.

Morning Wave 23

THE PLAYERS Championship - Round Two
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Morning Wave 23

THE PLAYERS Championship - Round Two
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Kenny Perry
Jeff Maggert
Kevin Sutherland

Perry has a chance to overachieve here, but all three are on the outside looking in. Realistically, any of these golfers would be happy to reach play after cuts are made.

Morning Wave 24

BMW PGA Championship - Day One
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Morning Wave 24

BMW PGA Championship - Day One
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Wen-Chong Liang
Maximilian Kieffer
Shiv Kapur

There are a lot of different styles at play from this group even though there are no big names. That means some surprises could come out of this group, either good or bad.

Morning Wave 25

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Morning Wave 25

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Smylie Kaufman
(a) Maverick McNealy
(a) Brandon McIver

With two amateurs in this group, there isn't a whole lot of opportunity for contention. However, for those looking for future stars in the sports, McNealy and McIver could be a few years away.

Morning Wave 26

Stadion Classic at UGA - Round Three
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Morning Wave 26

Stadion Classic at UGA - Round Three
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Anthony Broussard
(a) Will Grimmer
Nicholas Lindheim

In the final morning group, there isn't a whole lot of "wow" factor. Lindheim could sneak out of the group, but it would be a shock if any of these guys made serious noise.

Afternoon Wave 1

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round Two
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Afternoon Wave 1

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round Two
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Garth Mulroy
Steven Alker
Bobby Gates

While Mulroy's name looks a lot like a star golfer, he and the other two in his group don't have a huge chance to compete in the tournament. Gates could play his short game into contention, but that's about his only shot.

Afternoon Wave 2

BMW PGA Championship - Day Two
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Afternoon Wave 2

BMW PGA Championship - Day Two
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Niclas Fasth
Kiyoshi Miyazato
Hudson Swafford

Fasth is someone that most people don't know about, but they soon could. He could really be a competitor in this tournament if his momentum means anything.

Afternoon Wave 3

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round One
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Afternoon Wave 3

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round One
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John Senden
Nicolas Colsaerts
Brooks Koepka

Out of this group, Senden has the chance to compete, but this group of relative unknowns likely won't provide serious contenders. However, the fun of the U.S. Open is that the unexpected can always come true.

Afternoon Wave 4

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Afternoon Wave 4

U.S. Open - Preview Day 2
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Dustin Johnson
Jimmy Walker
Victor Dubuisson

Clearly, Johnson is the top competitor out of this group. He's a young rising star in the sport and will really need to step up this weekend. He's in that same discussion to be the next face of golf, and a win this weekend will heat up that discussion.

Afternoon Wave 5

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round One
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Afternoon Wave 5

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round One
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Stewart Cink
Justin Leonard
Y.E. Yang

Cink is past his prime, but anyone who has shown the ability he has always has a chance in a tournament like this. A win this weekend could certainly add the cherry on top to Cink's solid career.

Afternoon Wave 6

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Afternoon Wave 6

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Bubba Watson
Adam Scott
Charl Schwartzel

Watson and Scott are big contenders in this grouping, especially Watson, who has been on a tear. The polarizing and talented golfer could continue to push forward his name in the golfing world with a win this weekend.

Afternoon Wave 7

the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round Two
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Afternoon Wave 7

the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round Two
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Ernie Els
Darren Clarke
Louis Oosthuizen

The most notable name and the biggest contender out of this group is the veteran Ernie Els. He hasn't been on a major leader board in a while, but contending this weekend certainly isn't out of the question.

Afternoon Wave 8

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round One
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Afternoon Wave 8

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round One
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Jason Dufner
Keegan Bradley
Martin Kaymer

All three of these golfers actually have a chance at a good weekend. In fact, all three are on their way up in the golfing world. It's interesting to have all three in the same group, because a big tournament from any one of them could set them on a better career trajectory.

Afternoon Wave 9

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Afternoon Wave 9

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Hunter Mahan
Francesco Molinari
Jamie Donaldson

Out of this group, Mahan obviously has the best chance at playing for something on Sunday. He's a rising star in the sport and with the way he's been playing lately, competing on the final few holes on Sunday is definitely possible.

Afternoon Wave 10

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Round Three
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Afternoon Wave 10

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Round Three
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Bo Van Pelt
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
Seung-Yul Noh

None of these guys are huge contenders, but once again, solid strategy and execution could get any of these guys to the last day of play. Out of all of them, Van Pelt is the most likely to go on a run.

Afternoon Wave 11

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round Two
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Afternoon Wave 11

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round Two
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Danny Willett
(a) Cory Whitsett
Luke Guthrie

In this grouping, Guthrie could make some noise. There aren't many household names here, but if anyone's career to this point shows their capable of competing this weekend, it's Guthrie.

Afternoon Wave 12

Nordea Masters - Day Two
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Afternoon Wave 12

Nordea Masters - Day Two
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Kevin Tway
James Renner
Chris Doak

This grouping doesn't seem like the most exciting, and it would take a lot for a few of these guys to stay in contention. Doak is a name to look out for, but not necessarily in this tournament.

Afternoon Wave 13

HP Byron Nelson Championship - Round Three
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Afternoon Wave 13

HP Byron Nelson Championship - Round Three
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Cody Gribble
Chris Thompson
(a) Andrew Dorn

Dorn, an amateur, could be exciting in the near future, but it would be a big surprise if he made any noise this weekend. Sometimes amateurs are just happy to be in these situations, so it remains to be seen whether or not that's the attitude Dorn will take on.

Afternoon Wave 14

BMW PGA Championship - Previews
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Afternoon Wave 14

BMW PGA Championship - Previews
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Alex Cejka
Graeme Storm
David Oh

Like many other groupings in the first round, this doesn't provide many contenders. Storm wouldn't be a huge surprise candidate to be playing on Sunday, but with this tough tournament, it's not expected either.

Afternoon Wave 15

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Afternoon Wave 15

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Oliver Fisher
Casey Wittenberg
Andres Echavarria

Some second and third-tier golfers are in this group with a chance to surprise some people. Very different styles exist in this group and in such an unpredictable tournament, that could mean early excitement.

Afternoon Wave 16

Shell Houston Open - Round One
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Afternoon Wave 16

Shell Houston Open - Round One
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Joe Ogilvie
Mark Wilson
Ken Duke

These three know what they're doing, they just don't quite have the talent of some of the other golfers competing. That means they have the strategy component mostly down, now they just need to execute.

Afternoon Wave 17

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Afternoon Wave 17

U.S. Open - Preview Day 1
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Jim Furyk
Steve Stricker
Bill Haas

There are several established veterans in this group, and Furyk and Stricker are always good bets to compete for titles. With experience in most situations, these veterans should be competing on Sunday with a chance to polish up their resumes even more.

Afternoon Wave 18

Nordea Masters - Day Two
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Afternoon Wave 18

Nordea Masters - Day Two
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Brendon De Jonge
Kevin Stadler
Shane Lowry

Stadler and Lowry have some major upside, which could lead to them competing late into the weekend, but don't expect that. Honestly, bigger and better things are ahead for most of these guys, but not in this tournament.

Afternoon Wave 19

the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round Two
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Afternoon Wave 19

the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round Two
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Luke Donald
Harris English
Paul Casey

There are a handful of golfers trying to be the next face of golf. Donald is right in the thick of that discussion and when he's focused, he can be dangerous. It remains to be seen whether he brings that focus this weekend or not.

Afternoon Wave 20

the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round Three
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Afternoon Wave 20

the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round Three
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J.B. Holmes
Gary Woodland
Graham DeLaet

Like a couple of other groupings in the tournament, this grouping is filled with potential up-and-comers who could make some noise for themselves. However, like the other groups, that doesn't mean anyone from this grouping is going to be in the thick of things on Sunday.

Afternoon Wave 21

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Final Round
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Afternoon Wave 21

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Final Round
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Retief Goosen
Geoff Ogilvy
Lucas Glover

While Glover is on the outside looking in, Goosen and Ogilvy know what it takes to win a tournament like this. Neither has experienced sustained success in terms of major tournaments, but their experience could go a long way this weekend.

Afternoon Wave 22

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round One
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Afternoon Wave 22

The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - Round One
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Bernd Wiesberger
Hyung-Sung Kim
Toru Taniguchi

Most golf fans don't know a single guy on this list, and that would lead them to believe none of them have a chance this weekend. That's probably fair to assume, but Taniguchi is a potential surprise.

Afternoon Wave 23

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round One
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Afternoon Wave 23

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round One
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Ryan Palmer
Rod Pampling
Kevin Streelman

Palmer and Pampling surely have upside, but don't expect huge surprises from the golfers in this grouping. Like so many others in the sport, these guys have more ahead in the future, but certainly could do the unthinkable this weekend.

Afternoon Wave 24

BMW Charity Pro-Am Presented by SYNNEX Corporation - Round Three
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Afternoon Wave 24

BMW Charity Pro-Am Presented by SYNNEX Corporation - Round Three
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Azuma Yano
Ryan Blaum
David Gossett

Yano is an unknown like the rest of these golfers, but he's one who could compete out of this grouping. Gossett and Blaum each would have to execute perfectly in order to compete, but Yano has a bit more talent to fall back on.

Afternoon Wave 25

Sanderson Farms Championship - Round One
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Afternoon Wave 25

Sanderson Farms Championship - Round One
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Simon Griffiths
Fran Quinn
Donald Constable

These guys may like starting later so they have their work cut out for them more. Each will be able to strategize in order to determine when to take risks depending on the hole. None of them have a great chance at competing, but everyone will see if starting later will help them or hurt them.

Afternoon Wave 26

The Honda Classic - Round Three
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Afternoon Wave 26

The Honda Classic - Round Three
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(a) Hunter Stewart
Sam Love
Zac Blair

Bringing up the rear of first round play, this grouping has a solid chance at producing surprises. The unknown of amateurs is always interesting, and Love and Blair could overachieve as long as they execute in their mid-range and short-range games.