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June 08, 2013

Parsing the Pairings: What to Make of this Year's Open Groups

Posted at 9:29 AM by Josh Sens | Categories: 2013 U.S. Open, Merion Golf Club, U.S. Open

Maybe you were hoping for a wicked sense of humor.

What you got instead was a sense of decorum from the USGA when the U.S. Open pairings were announced today.

An awkward first tee moment between Tiger and Sergio?

Not to be.

The sensitive Spaniard (or should we call him the insensitive Spaniard?) tees off at 7:44 a.m., a half a liftetime ahead of Tiger, who won’t get started until 1:14 p.m.

With Sergio nowhere to be seen, the only bad juju on Tiger’s tee is apt to be between him and Steve Williams, his former chum and caddy. Williams will be humping for Adam Scott, who’s grouped with Tiger and Rory McIlroy.

It's hard to say which group will get more TV time on Thursday: the world’s top-three ranked players, or the three-ball that follows, which features Thorbjorn Olesen, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Thongchai Jaidee.

As with a Dan Brown novel, some ham-fisted themes are worth exploring. In Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk and Graham McDowell (1:03 p.m.), the Open has three guys with warning-track power. Laid end to end, their drives may soar as far as a single tee shot by Bubba Watson, who is paired with fellow bombers Dustin Johnson and Nicolas Colsaerts. Those pyrotechnics start 7 a.m.

Let’s see. What else?

In grouping Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner and Boo Weekley (7:55 a.m), golf’s governing body has brought together three guys who speak the same language. Sort of. In lumping two Aussies (Mathew Goggin, Alistair Presnell) with one Kiwi (Steve Alker), the powers-that-be have found a tie that binds: each man grew up knowing that a wallaby is basically a pint-sized kangaroo. They hop into action at 2:46 p.m.

By that time, Sergio should be well into his round, playing with Stewart Cink, a former British Open Champion, and Padraig Harrington, who twice edged Garcia for major titles.

The first time that happened (the 2007 British Open), Sergio insinuated that Harrington got lucky. The second time around (the 2008 PGA Championship), Harrington suggested that Sergio choked, adding, for good measure, that the two men had “zero in common.”

Now they’re back together.

Maybe there’s some wicked humor to this after all.


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