The pairings are out for the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club and as usual the USGA has done a great job. Some of the groups that I’m excited to see are:
Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson
Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood
Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Dufner
Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Dustin Johnson
Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson
There are a lot of other great groups, but those are the ones that really jumped out at me. Interestingly the U.S.G.A. broke their tradition of pairing the reigning U.S. Open champion with the reigning British Open and U.S. Amateur champions. That’s a little disappointing, but then again, it’s a tough grouping to make when the reigning British Open champion (Darren Clarke) is not even playing! Knowing Darren, he may still be celebrating the win at Royal St. George’s.
That said, the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion, Kelly Kraft, turned pro and forfeited his invitation to play in the U.S. Open as an amateur so poor old Rory was left with no one to play with. I guess he just has to settle for Luke and Lee.
In addition to the marquee groupings the U.S.G.A. likes to play little games with some of the groups and put guys together that have a uniquely similar characteristic. In years past we have seen pairings consisting of only major winners, only players from the same country or even the world ranked 1, 2 and 3 in the same group. I always have fun trying to figure out which groups are random and which ones have a intentional synergy. You have to love the U.S.G.A.’s sense of humor with these pairings:
Carl Pettersson, Charl Schwartzel, Charles Howell III (all guys have similar first names)
Robert Karlsson, Bob Estes, Robert Rock (again, a group of with the same first name)
K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang, K.T. Kim (all guys with two letters for a first name)
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Sang Moon Bae, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (all guys with three names)
Stewart Cink, Trevor Immelman, Lucas Glover (all 1 time major winners)
I’m sure there are more groups with a common thread that I overlooked, but these jumped out at me immediately. There used to be a rumored “prick pairing” of guys that are widely considered to be less than enjoyable to play with or just jerks in general. At a quick glance I didn’t see any groups that fit this description – that said, it might be tough to recognize without Rory Sabbatini in the field this year.
Can’t wait for next Thursday to get here!!!!!