Tiger, Phil, Bubba paired at U.S. Open

Bubba Watson (left), Tiger Woods (centre) and Phil Mickelson. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP, Ezra...

Bubba Watson (left), Tiger Woods (centre) and Phil Mickelson. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP, Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP)

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 5:29 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - Three-time champion Tiger Woods, five- time runner-up Phil Mickelson and reigning Masters winner Bubba Watson will play the first two rounds together at the U.S. Open starting next Thursday at The Olympic Club.

The trio will start on No. 9 at 10:33 a.m. (ET) on Thursday, then will go off the first tee at 4:18 p.m. on Friday.

Woods is coming off his second win of the season at The Memorial. He also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational before struggling to a share of 40th at the Masters.

Mickelson, who routed Woods at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, is still looking for that elusive first U.S. Open crown. He shared 10th place the last time The Olympic Club hosted the Open in 1998.

Watson broke through for his first major championship title earlier this year at Augusta National. Since then, Watson has played very little golf. He and his wife adopted a baby and Watson has stayed home to be with the boy.

In his two starts since the Masters, Watson shared 18th in his title defense in New Orleans, then missed the cut at the Memorial.

The top-three players in the world -- Luke Donald, defending champion Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood -- will be among the feature pairings on Thursday afternoon. They will start on No. 1 at 4:29 p.m. (et), then begin on 10:44 a.m. on the ninth on Friday.

McIlroy is playing in Memphis this week after missing the cut in his last three worldwide starts. Donald and Westwood, who is leading at the halfway point in Sweden this week, are both looking for their first major championship title.

Last year. McIlroy fired four rounds in the 60s to crush the field by eight strokes. Among the records he set, McIlroy was the first to reach 17-under par at a U.S. Open and his total of 268 was four better than the previous record of 272, which was done four times.

Following the top three players in the world will be a host of former major winners. In fact, eight of the nine players in the next three groups are major champions.

After the top three will be Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell. Furyk and McDowell are former U.S. Open winners, while Garcia is the lone player still looking for that first major.

The next group is 2009 British Open champ Stewart Cink, 2008 Masters winner Trevor Immelman and 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover. After those three are three past U.S. Open winners - Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy and Angel Cabrera.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, Padraig Harrington and David Toms will be two groups after the Woods' threesome starting on the ninth tee Thursday morning and off No. 1 on Friday afternoon.

There are five solid groups starting on the ninth tee Thursday afternoon. The first of those groups at 4:44 p.m. (et) Thursday includes three of the top young Americans - 2011 FedExCup winner Bill Haas, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker.

After that trio is 2010 PGA Champion Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan and Justin Rose.

Steve Stricker, Ian Poulter and Matt Kuchar will be the next group out and they will be trailed by Jason Day, 2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Dufner, who has won two of his last four starts.

The last of the highlighted groups is Wells Fargo winner Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa and Dustin Johnson, who is coming back from recent back trouble.

The USGA left four spots open for late qualifiers.


Videos

Photos