The Loop

Woods, Mickelson, Scott form premier pairing

The USGA released the pairings for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open next Thursday morning and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be paired together. The top two players win the world will be joined on the first tee by third-ranked Adam Scott when they first attack Torrey Pines' South Course in La Jolla, Calif., at 8:06 a.m. local time. In addition to the top three players on the World Ranking, the USGA has placed the fourth- through sixth-ranked players together (Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy, Justin Rose will play at 1:36 p.m. on the 10th hole); the seventh- through ninth-ranked players together (Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and K.J. Choi will start at 7:22 a.m. on the 10th hole) and the 10th- through 12th-ranked players together (Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and Stewart Cink will play at 12:52 p.m. on the first hole).

The best players in the world usually play in opposite sides of the field at the U.S. Open, largely to accommodate television, but the USGA decided to shake things up this year. "Why not put [the biggest stars] in the same wave," Mike Davis, the USGA's senior director of rules and competition told the Associated Press. "The heck with what TV wants. Let's do what we want for the championship. This year we got to thinking, 'Isn't it kind of crummy that we've never had the two guys ranked 1 and 2 in the world in the same wave?'"

The gallery for the premier pairing will be enormous. Woods, playing his first tournament since the Masters, and Mickelson are known for their large fan base, and Scott is a huge draw as well.

For the claustrophobic in attendance at the Open, there are several other intriguing pairings. Long hitters Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes and Brett Wetterich are in the same group set to tee off on the first hole at 1:47 p.m. A trio of Englishmen—Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Luke Donald—will start on the 10th hole at 1:14 p.m. And those wishing to see a temper tantrum can follow the group that includes Pat Perez and Woody Austin at 8:06 a.m. on the 10th hole. Past Masters champions—Mike Weir, Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman—go off on the first hole at 1:03 p.m.

For the complete list of U.S. Open pairings click here.