Jun
8
2017
2017 U.S. Open first- and second-round pairings and tee times: Phil TBD, major bombers (*Update)
By Stephanie Wei under US Open

phil-mickelson-dustin-johnson-golf-the-barclays_3479710

On Thursday the USGA announced the first- and second-round pairings and tee times for next week’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills, which is a bigly golf course, measuring out at 7,741 yards. With the venue set to host its first major professional event, there are a lot of unknowns about Erin Hills, but one thing’s for sure: It’s LONG; really, really long.

I played there in 2010 during the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and found it delightful (because I played well), but many of my colleagues complained about the heavy hay, which was thicker than usual since the course had just reopened after the costly renovations. Wind will be a factor. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a “links” course; maybe “faux links” or “links-inspired,” but Americans incorrectly identifying inland courses as “links” is very high (if not no. 1) on my list of pet peeves in golf. 

The entire field is not yet set — you’ll notice a few tee times that say “TBD.” The USGA reserves a number of spots in case players who are not already qualified have a strong week and jump into the top-50 in OWGR and/or win on Sunday (which, in the past, guys have found kind of annoying because they don’t hear until the last minute and need to make travel and accommodation plans). That’s also why the alternate spots at the strong Sectional qualifiers are so significant–there’s a good chance first alternate will get the nod.

*Update: Good news for alternates this year! In the past, alternates have been denied the opportunity to play practice rounds until they’re officially in the field, which can be frustrating and downright exasperating if you don’t get in until right before the first round — which is a very plausible scenario at Erin Hills. The USGA is allowing alternates to play afternoon practice rounds, according to the AP.

Jeff Hall, the USGA’s managing director of rules and open championships, said recent history at the U.S. Open has shown that with most players practicing in the morning, there would be room to accommodate first alternates in the afternoon.

“We haven’t been overly public with it,” Hall said. “But we’ve been communicating to the alternates that they will be entitled to play.”

The U.S. Open was the only major that did not let alternates play the course until they were in the championship (the Masters has no alternates). Until this year, alternates were allowed full access to the practice facilities and could walk the golf course; they just couldn’t play.

The USGA was concerned that practice rounds for a 156-man field often take more than five hours, and it feared adding a dozen or so players to the tee sheet on Monday through Wednesday would make the course overly crowded.

“We found there were a lot of vacancies in that Monday-to-Wednesday afternoon wave,” Hall said.

Of course, the most significant “TBD” player who still has a tee time is Phil Mickelson, who is scheduled to play at 2:20pm CT (local). However, Mickelson, a runner-up at the U.S. Open SIX times, has alerted the USGA that there’s a chance he will withdraw. The first round of the U.S. Open coincides on the same day as his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation. As much as Mickelson, 46 (turns 47 next Friday), wants to win the ever-elusive U.S. Open to complete the career grand slam, he considers his daughter’s graduation ceremony more important — which was first reported by the New York Times.

As class president, Amanda will be giving the commencement speech. She is headed to attend Brown University this fall. Although she reassured her father that it was OK if he missed her graduation, Mickelson has always put his family first.

Remember at the 1999 U.S. Open when Amy Mickelson was pregnant with their first child and Phil had a pager with him at Pinehurst in case she went into labor? That was also the first of Phil’s heartbreaking runner-up finishes. We all remember the iconic image of the late Payne Stewart celebrating his win and then holding Phil’s face and telling him, “Good luck with the baby. There’s nothing greater than being a father.”

Amanda was born the following day.

In 2013 Mickelson encountered a bit of a conflict with Amanda’s 8th grade graduation, which took place the day before the first round of the U.S. Open, which was held at Merion in the Philadelphia area. Naturally, Mickelson flew back to California to attend the ceremony and returned only two hours before his tee time. He ultimately notched his sixth runner-up finish, setting a record.

Since then, Mickelson’s best finish at the U.S. Open was T28 in 2014. He missed the cut last year at Oakmont.

With a little help from the USGA, there’s a slim chance Phil will still make his tee time at Erin Hills. He’s the third-to-last group to tee off Thursday. Amanda’s graduation is scheduled for 10am PST (noon in Wisconsin). Phil is scheduled to take off as close to noon as possible at a private airport in Carlsbad, according to Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte.

The flight from Carlsbad to Hartford, Wisconsin, is approximately 3 hours, 45 minutes. Yikes, I don’t know, that’s going to be tough.

Mickelson will need some help from the weather. As of now, the forecast calls for sunny skies, but who relies on weather reports a week ahead of time?

“I’m looking forward to seeing Amanda graduation and watching her make her speech,” Mickelson said. “But I can still make it. You never know. I think it’s possible.”

Should he make the trip but not make the tee time, Mickelson joked he would be watching the Open or maybe even making a TV cameo.

“Maybe I’ll fly up and be on Golf Channel,” he joked. “I can tell everybody how to finish second.”

Aside: Interesting bit from the original NY Times story that broke the news — how Jack Nicklaus dealt with scheduling conflicts with the U.S. Open and significant events in the lives of his five children.

Jack Nicklaus, the Memorial tournament host and a father of five, recently explained how he had coordinated his professional obligations with some of the big events in his children’s lives. This tournament, he said, used to coincide with the graduation ceremonies at the private school in North Palm Beach, Fla., that his five children attended. The first time there was a conflict, he said, he successfully appealed to school officials to change the commencement ceremonies.

After that, Nicklaus said, school officials asked him about his schedule before settling on graduation dates and times.

Naturally.

When Phil was told about Nicklaus’ strategy, he said he didn’t have it in him to ask for special treatment. I’m with him there. I think if I were his daughter, I’d forbid it because it would be incredibly embarrassing.

Fingres crossed that Phil makes his tee time, but it’s a win for the Mickelsons no matter what…

 


OK, so the pairings! Remember when the USGA used to do themed pairings? The USGA still does themed pairings! (*See update below.) Sometimes they’re obvious — like the all-Aussie group — and other times they’re super insider golf-y — like the all Clemson group. It appears that ever since the USGA took it too far and received backlash from the “fat group” in 2014, the themed pairings don’t really happen anymore. (IMHO, the “short group” from years ago is way more offensive, but whatever, silly to compare.)

I’ve bolded and highlighted some marquee groups and several other lower-profile pairings that might be fun to watch if you want to actually watch golf and avoid massive galleries.

The last three U.S. Open champions will play the first two rounds together: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer — they tee off at 8:25 CT Thursday. There are five pairings in a row that are starting on the first tee Thursday afternoon that are all solid. One of those includes Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. I’m betting that threesome gets the largest galleries in the first two rounds.

Shout-out to Steve Stricker for playing in the 36-hole Sectional qualifier on Monday and earning Medalist honors at the Memphis site!!! He was denied a special exemption by the USGA and sucked it up and kicked butt by qualifying the old-fashioned way.

I’ve made a few comments in parenthesis on my thoughts on several of the pairings. My brain is kind of fried right now, so let me know if I missed any “themes.” Which is your favorite group? Who will you follow or would you follow?


 

THURSDAY — Tee #1 (*All times EDT)

  • 7:45 a.m.: Jordan Niebrugge, Talor Gooch, Kevin Dougherty
  • 7:56 a.m.: Andres Romero, Brice Garnett, Player TBD
  • 8:07 a.m.: Yusaku Miyazato, J.T. Poston, Aaron Rai
  • 8:18 a.m.: David Lingmerth, Paul Dunne, Haotong Li
  • 8:29 a.m.: a-Stewart Hagestad, Chez Reavie, Gene Sauers
  • 8:40 a.m.: Brandt Snedeker, Alex Noren, Tyrrell Hatton (Sneaky under the radar?)
  • 8:51 a.m.: Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Brooks Koepka (Pretty boys?)
  • 9:02 a.m.: Gary Woodland, J.B. Holmes, Jason Kokrak (Bombers)
  • 9:13 a.m.: Russell Knox, a-Scott Gregory, Martin Laird
  • 9:24 a.m.: Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, Branden Grace
  • 9:35 a.m.: Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Lucas Glover
  • 9:46 a.m.: Tyson Alexander, a-Christopher Crawford, Max Greyserman
  • 9:57 a.m.: Matthew Campbell, Garrett Osborn, a-Walker Lee
  • 1:30 p.m.: Jack Maguire, Corey Conners, Ben Kohles
  • 1:41 p.m.: Eddie Pepperell, Chan Kim, Player TBD
  • 1:52 p.m.: Jhonattan Vegas, Yuta Ikeda, Sean O’Hair
  • 2:03 p.m.: Andrew BEEF Johnston, Brian Stuard, George Coetzee
  • 2:14 p.m.: Marc Leishman, Pat Perez, Si Woo Kim
  • 2:25 p.m.: Russell Henley, a-Scottie Scheffler, Harris English
  • 2:36 p.m.: Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia (Masters champs!)
  • 2:47 p.m.: Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen (Ball strikers who have won majors)
  • 2:58 p.m.: Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey
  • 3:09 p.m.: Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy (Pure)
  • 3:20 p.m.: Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink, x-Phil Mickelson (Nice guys)
  • 3:31 p.m.: Ryan Brehm, a-John Oda, Jonathan Randolph
  • 3:42 p.m.: a-Mason Andersen, Derek Barron, Roman Robledo

THURSDAY — Tee #10

  • 7:45 a.m.: Player TBD, Ted Potter Jr., Daniel Chopra
  • 7:56 a.m.: Shugo Imahira, Player TBD, Matthew Wallace
  • 8:07 a.m.: Charley Hoffman, Jason Dufner, Hideto Tanihara
  • 8:18 a.m.: Jeunghun Wang, Thomas Aiken, Bradley Dredge
  • 8:29 a.m.: a-Scott Harvey, Jamie Lovemark, Michael Putnam
  • 8:40 a.m.: Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood, Bud Cauley (This is a stretch, but not particularly tall guys?)
  • 8:51 a.m.: Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm (Exciting young players who have yet to win a major)
  • 9:02 a.m.: Lee Westwood, Ross Fisher, Graeme McDowell (All hail from the U.K. — England and Northern Ireland)
  • 9:13 a.m.: Danny Willett, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera (Masters champs)
  • 9:24 a.m.: Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed
  • 9:35 a.m.: Martin Kaymer, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson (US Open champs)
  • 9:46 a.m.: a-Joaquin Niemann, Stephan Jaeger, Joel Stalter
  • 9:57 a.m.: Daniel Miernicki, a-Sahith Theegala, Player TBD
  • 1:30 p.m.: Wade Ormsby, Oliver Bekker, Kyle Thompson
  • 1:41 p.m.: Brandon Stone, Troy Merritt, Player TBD
  • 1:52 p.m.: Satoshi Kodaira, Daniel Summerhays, Alexander Levy
  • 2:03 p.m.: William McGirt, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Na
  • 2:14 p.m.: a-Brad Dalke, Wesley Bryan, Brendan Steele
  • 2:25 p.m.: Nick Flanagan, Richie Ramsay, Bryson DeChambeau
  • 2:36 p.m.: Daniel Berger, Roberto Castro, Bill Haas
  • 2:47 p.m.: Adam Hadwin, Emiliano Grillo, Cheng-Tsung Pan
  • 2:58 p.m.: Scott Piercy, Shane Lowry, Jim Furyk
  • 3:09 p.m.: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Peter Uihlein, Ben An (All European Tour players who are represented by Chubby Chandler and ISM)
  • 3:20 p.m.: Kevin Chappell, a-Maverick McNealy, Bernd Wiesberger
  • 3:31 p.m.: Xander Schauffele, Trey Mullinax, a-Cameron Champ
  • 3:42 p.m.: Sam Ryder, a-Alex Smalley, Andy Pope

 


 

Update 2: I missed a bunch of the themed pairings!


FRIDAY–Tee #1 (*All times EDT)

  • 7:45 a.m.: Wade Ormsby, Oliver Bekker, Kyle Thompson
  • 7:56 a.m.: Brandon Stone, Troy Merritt, Player TBD
  • 8:07 a.m.: Satoshi Kodaira, Daniel Summerhays, Alexander Levy
  • 8:18 a.m.: William McGirt, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Na
  • 8:29 a.m.: a-Brad Dalke, Wesley Bryan, Brendan Steele
  • 8:40 a.m.: Nick Flanagan, Richie Ramsay, Bryson DeChambeau
  • 8:51 a.m.: Daniel Berger, Roberto Castro, Bill Haas
  • 9:02 a.m.: Adam Hadwin, Emiliano Grillo, Cheng-Tsung Pan
  • 9:13 a.m.: Scott Piercy, Shane Lowry, Jim Furyk
  • 9:24 a.m.: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Peter Uihlein, Ben An
  • 9:35 a.m.: Kevin Chappell, a-Maverick McNealy, Bernd Wiesberger
  • 9:46 a.m.: Xander Schauffele, Trey Mullinax, a-Cameron Champ
  • 9:57 a.m.: Sam Ryder, a-Alex Smalley, Andy Pope
  • 1:30 p.m.: Player TBD, Ted Potter Jr., Daniel Chopra
  • 1:41 p.m.: Shugo Imahira, Player TBD, Matthew Wallace
  • 1:52 p.m.: Charley Hoffman, Jason Dufner, Hideto Tanihara
  • 2:03 p.m.: Jeunghun Wang, Thomas Aiken, Bradley Dredge
  • 2:14 p.m.: a-Scott Harvey, Jamie Lovemark, Michael Putnam
  • 2:25 p.m.: Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood, Bud Cauley
  • 2:36 p.m.: Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm
  • 2:47 p.m.: Lee Westwood, Ross Fisher, Graeme McDowell
  • 2:58 p.m.: Danny Willett, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera
  • 3:09 p.m.: Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed
  • 3:20 p.m.: Martin Kaymer, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson
  • 3:31 p.m.: a-Joaquin Niemann, Stephan Jaeger, Joel Stalter
  • 3:42 p.m.: Daniel Miernicki, a-Sahith Theegala, Player TBD

FRIDAY–Tee #10

  • 7:45 a.m.: Jack Maguire, Corey Conners, Ben Kohles
  • 7:56 a.m.: Eddie Pepperell, Chan Kim, Player TBD
  • 8:07 a.m.: Jhonattan Vegas, Yuta Ikeda, Sean O’Hair
  • 8:18 a.m.: Andrew Johnston, Brian Stuard, George Coetzee
  • 8:29 a.m.: Marc Leishman, Pat Perez, Si Woo Kim
  • 8:40 a.m.: Russell Henley, a-Scottie Scheffler, Harris English
  • 8:51 a.m.: Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia
  • 9:02 a.m.: Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen
  • 9:13 a.m.: Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey
  • 9:24 a.m.: Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy
  • 9:35 a.m.: Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink, x-Phil Mickelson
  • 9:46 a.m.: Ryan Brehm, a-John Oda, Jonathan Randolph
  • 9:57 a.m.: a-Mason Andersen, Derek Barron, Roman Robledo
  • 1:30 p.m.: Jordan Niebrugge, Talor Gooch, Kevin Dougherty
  • 1:41 p.m.: Andres Romero, Brice Garnett, Player TBD
  • 1:52 p.m.: Yusaku Miyazato, J.T. Poston, Aaron Rai
  • 2:03 p.m.: David Lingmerth, Paul Dunne, Haotong Li
  • 2:14 p.m.: a-Stewart Hagestad, Chez Reavie, Gene Sauers
  • 2:25 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker, Alex Noren, Tyrrell Hatton
  • 2:36 p.m.: Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Brooks Koepka
  • 2:47 p.m.: Gary Woodland, J.B. Holmes, Jason Kokrak
  • 2:58 p.m.: Russell Knox, a-Scott Gregory, Martin Laird
  • 3:09 p.m.: Kevin Kisner, Billy Horschel, Branden Grace
  • 3:20 p.m.: Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Lucas Glover
  • 3:31 p.m.: Tyson Alexander, a-Christopher Crawford, Max Greyserman
  • 3:42 p.m.: Matthew Campbell, Garrett Osborn, a-Walker Lee

(a): amateur


 

2017 U.S. Open Championship – Par & Yardage

Erin Hills will set up at 7,741 yards and will play to a par of 36-36—72. The yardage for each round of the championship will vary due to course setup and conditions.

Erin Hills Hole By Hole
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total
Par 5 4 4 4 4 3 5 4 3 36
Yardage 608 338 508 439 505 208 607 492 135 3,840
630 361 476 398 462 180 619 512 143
560 236 576 150
Hole 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Total
Par 4 4 4 3 5 4 3 4 5 36
Yardage 504 460 464 193 594 357 183 509 637 3,901
524 434 215 650 370 200 518 675
476 170 613 288 171 663
252 622