Louis Oosthuizen will start his US Open quest with Jimmy Walker and Justin Rose for company while Tiger Woods joins Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson for the first 36 holes at Shinnecock Hills, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
The USGA have ignored Rory McIlroy’s recent comments about marquee groups and have gone ahead and stacked the field for the year’s second Major.
‘I mean I don’t mind playing with the top guys in the first two days, but the objective is to get those top guys in contention on Sunday,’ McIlroy said at The Players. ‘So we’ll see if it works out or not over the next few weeks. But I get why they’re doing it, and I get why it creates a bit of a buzz at the start of the week. But I would rather see Rickie and Phil and Tiger play on a Sunday rather than on a Thursday and two of them going home.’
McIlroy believes the hype and buzz could ‘affect some players’ but he will have to put that aside as he joins local favourite Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth at 2:02pm on Thursday.
The USGA, often criticized for their course set-up, cannot be held responsible for a lack of ‘made for TV’ golf with three-time winner Tiger Woods joining current world No 1 Justin Thomas, the reigning PGA Championship winner, and the mange replaced on top of the rankings, Dustin Johnson, for the first 36 holes.
Louis Oosthuizen, second at this event in 2015, is part of a Major-winning group with Justin Rose and Jimmy Walker joining him for the first two days. Oosthuizen is not the first South African off in the championship with Dylan Frittelli, playing in his first US Open and ticking off all four Majors, starting at 1:18pm with leading amateur Doug Ghim and popular Venezuelan Jhonnatan Vegas for company.
Branden Grace joins Paul Casey and Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira at 1:40pm off the 10th tee.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka plays alongside Bubba Watson and Jason Day on Thursday and Friday with a number of specially-crafted groupings on offer. Before Charl Schwartzel gets his tournament under way in an all-Masters winning combination that features 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson, there is an all-English affair with Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter going off at 1:40pm with Danny Willett.
At 7:14pm, there is an all-Spanish group to follow with Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Jon Rahm joining Sergio Garcia. There is a Ryder Cup stars-in-the-making group at 7:25pm with Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari and Alex Noren in the same group while Ernie Els makes up the elder statesmen tee time at 7:36pm with fellow sponsor’s invitee Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker.
At 7:58pm, a trio of Asia’s finest – Haotong Li, Si-Woo Kim and Kiradech Aphibarnrat – attempt to tame Shinnecock Hills.
Dean Burmester begins his US Open debut with Americans Sam Burns and Brian Gay at 6:30pm.
The morning field has plenty to offer:
The afternoon field is just as appetizing:
*All times SA