By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
The USGA saved its best U.S. Open grouping for first. The organization took to Twitter on Friday to announce that the world's top three players - Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott - would play together in the first two rounds at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. The rest of the groupings were announced hours later.
Woods, McIlroy and Scott will tee off at 1:14 p.m. Thursday off of Merion's first tee. They'll start their second round at 7:44 a.m. Friday on Merion's 11th hole. The USGA first grouped the world's top three players at the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods and Scott were both in that group at Torrey Pines, along with Phil Mickelson. Woods won that U.S. Open in 2008, while Scott finished 26th after opening with consecutive 73s.
McIlroy will complete the trio this time. He tweeted, "Decent group for the first 2 rounds at Merion I see...," after the grouping was announced.
Some other notable U.S. Open tee times:
* Cliff Kresge will hit the championship's first tee shot at 6:45 a.m. off Merion's first tee. He'll be joined by Roger Tambellini and a player to be determined.
* The first group off Merion's 11th tee will feature three of the game's biggest hitters: Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Nicolas Colsaerts. They'll tee off at 7 a.m. All groups beginning on the back nine will tee off on Merion's 11th hole.
* The star-studded trio of Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley will be the second group off No. 11. They're scheduled to tee off at 7:11 a.m.
* Three of the pre-tournament favorites - Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker - will tee off No. 11 at 7:22 a.m. They are Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking, respectively.|
* Three of South Africa's top players -- Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Tim Clark -- are in the 7:33 a.m. grouping off No. 11. Oosthuizen is No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking, while Schwartzel is ranked 15th.
* Two Open Championship winners, Padraig Harrington and Stewart Cink, are paired with one of the best players without a major championship victory, Sergio Garcia. Harrington beat Garcia in a playoff at the 2007 Open Championship. They're teeing off at 7:44 a.m. on the 11th hole.
* England's Ian Poulter will play with two Southerners, Jason Dufner of Auburn, Ala., and Boo Weekley of East Milton, Fla., in the first two rounds. They tee off at 7:55 a.m. Thursday on the 11th hole.
* Three young, charismatic stars will be in the 8:06 grouping off the 11th tee: Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassero and Jason Day.
* Three former world No. 1s will tee off at 12:52 p.m. when Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer begin play at No. 1.
* Three major champions, as well as two of the contenders from last year's U.S. Open, are in the 1:03 p.m. grouping off No. 1: Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson.
* Three players who represented the USGA in international team competition are in the 1:18 p.m. grouping off No. 11: Scott Langley (2010 World Amateur Team Championship), amateur Chris Williams (2011 Walker Cup) and Morgan Hoffmann (2009 Walker Cup). Hoffmann may have the most competitive experience at Merion of anyone in the field. He made match play in the 2005 U.S. Amateur there and went 2-0-1 in the 2009 Walker Cup.
* The 1:29 p.m. grouping off No. 11 features three U.S. Amateur runners-up: Michael Thompson (2007), amateur Michael Weaver (2012) and Casey Wittenberg (2003). Thompson (T-2) and Wittenberg (T-10) both finished in the top 10 at last year's U.S. Open.| Weaver is one of three Cal golfers in the field. Teammates Michael Kim and Max Homa advanced through sectional qualifying.
* Defending champion Webb Simpson will tee off at 1:36 p.m. off of No. 1 when he plays in the traditional grouping with the U.S. Amateur champion (Steven Fox) and Open Championship winner (Ernie Els).
* The 2:02 p.m. group off No. 11 includes two players who won on the PGA TOUR this year and made big leaps in the Official World Golf Ranking. Kevin Streelman, winner of the Tampa Bay Championship, has lept from 225th to 36th in the world. Shell Houston Open winner D.A. Points has moved from 148th to 49th. Bo Van Pelt, the world's 27th-ranked player, is the third member of the group.
* The next group off No. 11 also features two players who won on the PGA TOUR this year: HP Byron Nelson Championship winner Sang-Moon Bae and Sony Open in Hawaii winner Russell Henley. They'll be joined by Branden Grace, the world's No. 31 player.
* The 2:24 p.m. group on No. 11 features three young talents: Hideki Matsuyama, 21; Jordan Spieth, 19; and Billy Horschel, 26. Matsuyama twice made the cut in the Masters after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur; he turned pro this year and already is No. 63 in the Official World Golf Ranking after going 1st-2nd-2nd-1st in his past four Japan Tour starts. Spieth, 19, is in his first season as a professional and already has earned more than $900,000 on the PGA TOUR. Horschel won this year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.