I’m going out on a limb and say that when the pairings were made for next week’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, if there was any type of “tradition”, it may have gone by the wayside. All you have to do is view the list and you can easily find a half a dozen extremely interesting pairings.
Here are a few…
Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Zach Johnson
All three own at least one major victory. Goosen won the U.S. Open in 2001 (Southern Hills) and 2004 (Shinnecock Hills). Vijay’s owns a win in three major wins. Singh won PGA in 1998 (Sahalee) and in 2004 (Whistling Straits), and The Masters in 2000. A few pundits have pointed at Johnson as one of the favorites. His only major came when he won The Masters in 2007.
Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson
Another group comprised of major champs. Woods owns 14 as he continues his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus and the number 18. Lefty has three wins at Augusta and he also won PGA in 2005 (Baltusrol). We all know Bubba won The Masters this year.
Davis Love III, Padraig Harrington, David Toms
Another trio of major winners. DLII won the 1997 PGA (Winged Foot). Harrington won back-to-back Open Championships (2007 at Carnoustie and 2008 at Royal Birkdale). His third major came later in 2008 at the PGA (Oakland Hills). Toms only major victory was 2001 PGA at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Be interesting to see if Harrington can continue his slow climb back.
K. J. Choi, Y. E. Yang, K. T. Kim
Why do I find this pairing appealing? Choi is, well, steady. Seems like you can always find his name on the first page of the leaderborad of a major. This could be a week for him to thrive. Yang is known for chasing down Tiger at the 2009 PGA at Hazeltine so he knows the pressure, too. Kim is another South Korean that shows promise. Playing with Choi and Yang should calm any nerves he has. His record in majors isn’t exactly the best (2 MC’s and a best of T44 at 2011 Masters).
Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood
This goes without saying. The top three in the OWGR. Funny (or strange) thing is only McIlroy owns a major win. Just so happens that he’s defending that win at Olympic.
Stewart Cink, Trevor Immelman, Lucas Glover
Yet another of all major winners. Cink broke a heart or two after defeating Tom Watson in a playoff at The Open Championship at Turnberry in 2009. Immelman took home the green jacket in 2008. Glover won the U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2009.
Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy, Angel Cabrera
All major champs. Els owns a pair of U.S. Open wins (1994 at Oakmont and 1997 at Congressional). Ogilvy captured the ’06 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. (I’m sure fans of Mickelson will remember that one.) Cabrera also won the U.S. Open in 2007 (Oakmont) and donned a green jacket in 2009.
Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Dustin Johnson
No majors here, although Johnson should have at least a pair in his coffers by now. This is nothing more than eye candy for the ladies. Talk about a pairing that could push the issue of cell phones snapping pics and all. This is one group that will have a fair number of followers if you don’t follow Tiger, Lefty and Bubba.
Points of note…
All The Golf Boys (Bubba, Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Ben Crane) will be at Olympic. Wonder if there’s a comeback in the making…The threesome of Woods, Lefty and Bubba are the group immediately behind the group with Kevin Na. I needn’t say more…While Olympic may not favor long hitters due to the narrow fairways, there is one group to watch to see of they can keep the ball on the short grass: Alvaro Quiros, Gary Woodland, John Senden. Senden isn’t as long as Quiros or Woodland, but he’s only averaging 10 yards less than Woodland and 17 yards less than Quiros.