The year’s second Major brings together the world’s best players New York and the famed Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. The Willie Davis designed course will host the US Open for the fifth time and provide one of the toughest tests of golf of the year.
The draw for the 118th US Open was made last week and the USGA have selected some blockbuster groupings for the opening two rounds. Playing in his first Major, Frenchman Andrea Pavon will feature in the first group of the Championship at 6.45am on Thursday but after that, here’s a look at the seven best groups to keep an eye on over the opening 36 holes.
7.29am: Oosthuizen, Rose, Walker
Shortly before 7.30am on Thursday morning, the first tee will welcome three Major champions in the form of Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose and Jimmy Walker. Each has one Major title on their résumé but all three will no doubt be keen to double that tally late on Sunday evening.
Rose enters the week knowing that a solo runner-up finish or better could see him rise to World Number One by Monday. The Englishman has finished in the top ten in 16 of his last 20 events around the world and will look to become the first Englishman in history to win multiple US Open titles.
7.40am: Watson, Day, Koepka
The defending champion will have an early start to his title defence on Thursday, as he tees off alongside Jason Day and Bubba Watson at 7.40am. Whilst no player has won back-to-back US Opens since Curtis Strange in 1989, Koepka will hope to continue his recent Major form in order to contend over the weekend. The American has finished in top 25 in each of the last ten Major championships he’s played and despite only recently coming back from a recent wrist injury, he’ll certainly be amongst the favourites at Shinnecock.
Watson on the other hand will hope to get to grips with the US Open set-up that has challenged him in the past. He has missed the weekend in four of the last six US Opens and struggled here back in 2004.
Jason Day however has endured none of those struggles. He finished runner-up in two of his first three US Open and has five top tens in seven appearances at the tournament. This week he’ll try to become just the fourth Australian to win multiple Major titles, joining Peter Thompson, David Graham and Greg Norman.
7.51am: Hatton, Willett, Poulter
An all-English group will get their championship underway just before 8am on Thursday morning. Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Ian Poulter have 20 European Tour wins between them but none of the three have ever finished in the top ten at a US Open. Only two Englishman have lifted the trophy at this event since 1924, in Tony Jacklin and Justin Rose. Could we see an eighth English US Open winner this weekend? This group may be the one to watch if so.
8.02am: McIlroy, Spieth, Mickelson
It’s clear to the theme in the 8.02am group off the tenth hole on Thursday. All three players are one Major short of the career Grand Slam with only Mickelson able to compete the feat this week at Shinnecock. Mickelson has six runner-up finishes at the US Open but is yet to achieve what McIlroy did in 2011 and Spieth in 2015.
Both Spieth and McIlroy could top the Official Golf World Rankings on Monday if they were to win.
1.14pm: Garcia, Rahm, Cabrera Bello
Kicking off the afternoon marquee groups is the all-Spanish trio of Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera Bello. All three are leading the way in Spanish golf, arriving at Shinnecock inside the top 25 in the world. No Spaniard has ever won the US Open however Garcia and Rahm have enjoyed success in this even. Sergio has finished in the top 25 in each of his last three appearances and Rahm finished low amateur at the US Open in 2015 at Oakmont, announcing himself on the Major scene.
1.25pm: Fleetwood, Molinari, Noren
One group that Thomas Bjorn will be keeping an eye on is the 1.25pm group on Thursday. Three of the European Tour’s biggest stars line up in search of their first Major championship. Since the start of the 2015 season, this trio has collected 11 titles and all three currently occupy spots in the top ten in the Race to Dubai. Europeans have won four of the last eight US Open Championships, and if that trend should continue this week in New York, look for one of these three to be responsible.
1.47pm: Thomas, Johnson, Woods
If you are looking for a blockbuster group, how about the two best players in the world alongside the biggest name in golf. Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods will stride the fairways together on Thursday and Friday at Shinnecock.
Dustin Johnson will look to become the first player to ever win the US Open having won the week before. He has finished inside the top four in three of the last four editions of the tournament and is the bookies favourite to lift the trophy.
Twelve months ago, Justin Thomas eagled the final hole at Erin Hills to tie the lowest ever US Open round with a third round 63 and while he wasn’t able to mount a charge on Sunday, he did win the PGA Championship two months later.
Tiger Woods will tee it up at the US Open for the 20th time this week in New York. He has three wins, eight top tens and could move back inside the top 25 in the world if he were able to win.
Those are the marquee names and groups this week at Shinnecock. To see the full list of tee times, click here.