The 2012 U.S. Open will get underway on Thursday at The Olympic Club. The tee times and groupings for the opening rounds were released last week and, as to be expected, some of the groupings are significantly more intriguing than others. Let's take a look at some of the more notable groupings and see how interesting they seem. We'll go through the highlights, wave by wave.
First Wave Off No. 1 Tee
The first wave off of the first tee is decidedly underwhelming, with little star power to speak of. Two of the groupings are somewhat notable, however.
11:10 a.m.: Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Zach Johnson: Besides being notable for being the only grouping in the tournament featuring a guy named Retief, this could be considered the "throwback" group. Names you recognize, but the group somehow totally lacks name value. Two Stars (Out of Five)
11:32 a.m.: Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson: Probably the most compelling grouping in the first wave on the first tee, any of these three players could make a surprising run on the notoriously difficult front nine. Two and a Quarter Stars
The first wave off the first tee on Thursday gets like One Star (It's not a fun or exciting group in any way.)
First Wave Off No. 9 Tee
Now we're talkin'! Let's get us some of that sexy, sexy star power.
10:33 a.m.: Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson: Holy crap, are you kidding me? This is the casual golf fan's dream. The two biggest names in the tournament and the only pro golfer named Bubba. Fantastic. You also get a notable lefty and a notable "haha are you serious with that swing" swing. This is definitely the most fun group to watch in the early rounds. If you don't agree, you're just being silly. Five Stars. All of the stars.
11:06 a.m.: Carl Pettersson, Charl Schwartzel, Charles Howell III: If not for that group listed above, this would be a pretty compelling grouping. As it is, it should still be interested to see whether any of these three can put together a solid string of holes on the easier back nine. Three Stars
Second Wave Off No. 1 Tee
The afternoon waves get underway with a set of groupings that features a lot more star power than the morning front-nine group, including the top three golfers in the world, all in one convenient location.
4:29 p.m.: Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood: The world's top three ranked golfers in one trio. It'll be interesting to see how well they handle the rough front nine, but it may have plenty of entertainment value just in case they all self-destruct early. Four and a Half Stars
5:02 p.m.: Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy, Angel Cabrera: This is possibly the ultimate group of really great, world-class golfers that are totally overshadowed by the marquee groupings. One of these guys could surprise you and any of the three could conceivably win. Nobody's going to be watching them, though. Three Stars
5:13 p.m.: Martin Laird, Ben Crane, Anders Hansen: We all know what Laird and Crane are capable of. It's just a question of whether they'll do it. Three and a Quarter Stars
Second Wave Off No. 9 Tee
4:25 p.m.: Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose: Another compelling group that likely won't get much air time over the first two rounds, but could feature a breakout performance. Two and a Half Stars
4:36 p.m.: Steve Stricker, Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar: All three of these players have looked great recently. Will they continue their strong play? They certainly have an advantage in starting on the back nine. Three Stars
4:47 p.m.: Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Dufner: This is another trio that has looked great lately, and this could be considered the "pun grouping" as sportswriters will both love and fear a victor out of this group. Will Dufner duff it? will Day have his Day? Sportswriters from coast to coast are just hoping they won't have to type "Oosthuizen" a hundred times over the course of the tournament. Three and Three-Quarter Stars
4:58 p.m.: Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Dustin Johnson: If the PGA has a Justin Bieber at the moment, it's Rickie Fowler. Beyond just the haircut and the buzz, golf's wunderkind is looking for a chance to prove he's a legitimate threat. The U.S. Open may be the place he breaks through to the upper echelon. Four and a Quarter Stars