Golf: Rahm, McIlroy get early US Open starts with LIV 'rebels' in the afternoon

Spain's Jon Rahm tees off during a practice round of the 122nd US Open tournament, on June 13, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BROOKLINE (AFP) - Defending champion Jon Rahm and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy will tee off early in Thursday's (June 16) first round of the US Open while Saudi-backed LIV Golf's top stars make afternoon starts.

Tee times were released on Monday by the US Golf Association for the first and second rounds at The Country Club.

World No. 2 Rahm, a Spaniard who took his first Major title last June at Torrey Pines, will start in the fourth group off the first tee alongside James Piot, last year's US Amateur winner, and fellow American Collin Morikawa, the reigning British Open champion and 2020 PGA Championship winner.

Northern Ireland's third-ranked McIlroy, coming off a victory on Sunday at the Canadian Open, begins from the 10th tee at 7:40am alongside Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters winner, and American Xander Schauffele, last year's Tokyo Olympic champion.

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion, tees off on the 10th hole 1:25pm, along with Australian Cameron Smith and four-time Major winner Brooks Koepka.

World No. 5 Justin Thomas, who captured his second Major at last month's PGA Championship at Southern Hills, goes off the first tee 1:14pm alongside US compatriot Tony Finau, ranked 15th, and Norway's ninth-ranked Viktor Hovland.

Top players who have signed with the LIV Golf Invitational Series are being allowed to play this week by the USGA even though they have been suspended from PGA Tour events. Most of them will launch afternoon charges in what promises to be an emotional match-up.

Six-time Major winner and LIV Golf star Phil Mickelson tees off at the first hole alongside LIV Golf's Louis Oosthuizen and Ireland's Shane Lowry at 1:36pm.

Dustin Johnson, another LIV Golf rebel, will start in the group ahead of them along with Webb Simpson and England's Matt Fitzpatrick.

Bryson DeChambeau, the long-driving former US Open champion who signed with LIV Golf last weekend, will start at the 10th tee at 1:47pm, two groups after Scheffler, alongside fellow American Gary Woodland and England's Justin Rose, the former US Open champion who fired a 60 in Sunday's final round of the Canadian Open.

Patrick Reed, a former Masters champion who also joined LIV Golf last weekend, goes off in the group after DeChambeau at 1:58pm alongside England's Tommy Fleetwood and South Korean Lee Kyoung-hoon.

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