US Open groups boast star power

NEW YORK • Reigning US Open champion Dustin Johnson was grouped with rival Jordan Spieth and Germany's Martin Kaymer in pairings announced for this year's tournament by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

World No. 1 Johnson will chase back-to-back titles when the 117th edition of the tournament tees off next week at Erin Hills Golf Course near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

His group with 2015 champion Spieth and 2014 winner Kaymer is one of the most intriguing flights.

Star power will be on show in another marquee group which comprises three Major winners led by former US Open champions Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.

McIlroy, who declared himself fit after recovering from a rib and back problem, won the US Open in 2011. Olympic champion Rose won the 2013 edition, billed as the toughest test in golf. Rounding out the group is Australia's former world No. 1 Jason Day, winner of the 2015 PGA Championship.

Phil Mickelson, who could complete a career Grand Slam with a long-sought US Open victory, was given a late tee time by the USGA, despite saying last week that he would skip the tournament to attend his daughter Amanda's high school graduation in California.

His tee time of 2.20pm (3.20am on Friday, Singapore time) would not give him time to get from California to Erin Hills from the graduation ceremony scheduled to start at 5pm, so he will still need a weather delay.

"If there was any kind of delay, I'll have everything ready to go and we'll hopefully be able to make it," the six-time US Open runner-up said on Thursday after the first round of the PGA Tour's St. Jude Classic in Memphis.

"But it doesn't look too good for that. The weather looks to be pretty nice next week."

The 46-year-old American carded a one-under 69 to be in a tie for 29th. Former British Open champion Stewart Cink joined Matt Every, Scott Brown and Sebastian Munoz in a four-way tie at the top after a six-under 64.

Another group sure to attract a following at the US Open includes a trio of Masters champions, led by Spain's Sergio Garcia. He is paired with Australia's Adam Scott and two-time Augusta champion Bubba Watson.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'US Open groups boast star power'. Print Edition | Subscribe