Woods and Johnson grouped together at Shinnecock Hills
The first group teed off at Shinnecock Hills in the second major of the year just before midday today and there’s some hugely exciting groups to keep your eyes on.
It’s difficult to know where to look with so many exciting trios opening their US Open accounts on Thursday, just a few weeks prior to The 147th Open Championship.
We’ve picked out a couple of key groups to follow though, which includes Carnoustie course-record holder Tommy Fleetwood seeking his first major and a certain Tiger Woods alongside world number one Dustin Johnson.
Here’s what to look out for (all times BST):
12.29pm: Louis Oosthuizen, Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose
Justin Rose will be one of the first names out on Thursday afternoon as he tees off alongside South African Louis Oosthuizen and American Jimmy Walker.
The Englishman shot to fame with a fourth-place finish at The 1998 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale as a 17-year-old amateur and he won the US Open in 2013.
Success this weekend would guarantee Rose the world number one slot and now 37 years old, he’s got plenty of veteran instincts to fall back on.
“I feel like experience and all of those great attributes that have historically held players in good stead and allowed them to win majors into their 30s, that still is incredibly valuable – that’s never going to go away,” Rose said.
“Players like myself, the 80s babies, are still fit, still hit the ball a long way, still have all the attributes the young players have – just with added experience. This type of championship is hopefully our best shot.”
Oosthuizen, Champion Golfer of the Year in 2010, has a best finish of tied runner-up at the second major of the year while Walker won the PGA Championship in 2016.
12.40pm: Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka
The tournament’s reigning champion Brooks Koepka begins the defence of his title at 12.40pm alongside home favourite Bubba Watson.
A two-time Green Jacket winner, Watson has never finished better than fifth at the US Open, with the pair joined by Australian Jason Day.
With a game that suits Shinnecock Hills, former world number one Day – fourth at The Open Championship in 2015 – is being touted as a legitimate contender to lift the trophy come Sunday.
1.02pm: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson
This is one of the stand-out groups without question.
These three have all lifted the Claret Jug in their illustrious careers and have an incredible 12 major titles between them. Could it be 13 by the end of the week?
Jordan Spieth is the reigning Champion Golfer following his Royal Birkdale success – he will defend his crown at Carnoustie later this summer and is sure to raise his game in such a stellar three-ball.
The US Open is the one hole on Phil Mickelson’s CV – he’s a six-time runner-up – and victory this weekend would make him just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam.
All three have realistic chances at Shinnecock Hills this weekend with Rory McIlroy looking to regain the trophy he last won in 2011 – three years prior to him becoming Champion Golfer of the Year.
He said: “There are a lot of strong players but I feel good about my game. I just want to give myself another chance to win another major championship.
“He (Mickelson) has played wonderfully. It’s just someone has played a little better at a certain week or maybe he made a mistake at the wrong time. His US Open record is incredible.
“If I wasn’t playing and just purely as a fan of golf, I’d love to see Phil win this week because it’s great for the game. It’s a huge story in the game of golf.”
6.25pm: Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari, Alexander Noren
One of the favourites for Carnoustie, golf fans will be able to inspect Tommy Fleetwood’s form up close when he starts the second major of the year on Thursday evening.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 14, 2018
The 27-year-old is still searching for his first major win but will be high in confidence after finishing fourth at the US Open 12 months ago.
The Liverpudlian is joined by Italian Francesco Molinari and Sweden’s Alexander Noren – both have recorded top-ten finishes at The Open Championship in the past and could be a threat.
6.47pm: Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods
Save the best until last?
It’s a mouth-watering line-up as 14-time major champion Tiger Woods lines up alongside the world number one Dustin Johnson and fellow American Justin Thomas.
Woods hasn’t made the cut at the tournament since 2013 but is certain to attract plenty of attention alongside one of the favourites in Johnson.
A three-time Champion Golfer of the Year, Woods will need to be back to his best to keep pace with his playing partners – as Thomas won the PGA Championship last year.
More recently, Johnson cruised to a six-stroke victory at the St. Jude Classic last weekend to reclaim his spot at the top of the rankings – from Thomas no less – so there’s no denying his form.
He’ll be considered the favourite to lift the second major of the year and will be expecting to go one better than his second place at Royal St George’s at The 2011 Open Championship come July.
For more information about The 147th Open including tickets visit: TheOpen.com/Tickets