The United States Golf Association often shows a sense of humor when it comes to the tee-time groupings for the U.S. Open, but the organization went by the book when it put Phil Mickelson with defending champion Justin Rose.
The six-time runner-up will begin his attempt at a career Grand Slam on Thursday morning at Pinehurst No. 2, but alongside — again — Rose, as well as U.S. Amateur champ Matthew Fitzpatrick. The group will begin play off the 10th tee at 7:51 a.m. ET, with a 1:36 p.m. tee time on Friday.
The two Open champions along with the reigning U.S. Amateur champion are traditionally grouped together.
But for Mickelson, Rose has become a common playing companion and, of late, Mickelson hasn’t played well in that scenario. He hasn’t broken par in the last two majors in which the two were paired, shooting 76-73 at this year’s Masters and 71-71 at last year’s PGA Championship for a combined seven strokes over par.
Rose denied Mickelson at Merion last year, a defeat Mickelson called among the worst his close calls at the only major championship he has not won. Rose, who defeated Mickelson in a crucial Sunday singles match at the 2012 Ryder Cup, was then grouped with Mickelson for the first two rounds of several PGA Tour events following his victory, including last month at the Wells Fargo Championship.
The last three Masters champions — Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel — are in a group starting at 1:25 p.m. Thursday.
Among some of the other interesting groups at Pinehurst: former U.S. Open champions Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell (7:40 a.m.); Aussies Aaron Baddeley, Aron Price and Oliver Goss (8:24); young guns Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler (8:13); former U.S. Open champions Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy and Lucas Glover (1:47 p.m.); former Open championship winners Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and Louis Oosthuizen (1:36); and PGA champs Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer (1:47).
ESPN will carry first- and second-round coverage from Pinehurst from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. as well as 5-7 p.m.