Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott play together in the first two rounds of the U.S. Open
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- The first time the USGA decided to pair the top three players in the world together for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open was in 2008 at Torrey Pines.
Two of the three -- No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 3 Adam Scott -- are back in that grouping again on Thursday (1:14 p.m. ET) and Friday (7:44 a.m.) at Merion Golf Club for the 113th renewal the U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson, though, has been replaced by Rory McIlroy, who is now the No. 2 player in the world.
"I think it will be fantastic," Woods said. "I was part of that the first time they did it in '08. And it was very electric out there. I know they've done it a few more times. ... For me it's been fantastic. Normally we don't get those types of pairings very often.
"When you do it just makes it that much more enjoyable for us as players."
Scott, who comes to Merion as the only player with the chance to win the Grand Slam this year after his breakthrough victory at the Masters, remembers feeling like the third wheel back in 20008. Not that it was a surprise or anything.
"I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week," Scott said. "Remembering back to Torrey Pines, the hype was enormous around that pairing. Obviously with Tiger and Phil, it was so much to talk about with it being Phil's hometown and Tiger dominating at Torrey for years. And it was a great pairing.
"It was an experience that I'll never forget. I've never seen that many people on a Thursday morning on the first tee. It was a great atmosphere."
Scott knows the focus this week remains on the top two players. Woods is seeking his fourth U.S. Open -- and his first major since beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff at Torrey Pines. McIlroy, who has been a tad inconsistent of late, is going after his second U.S. Open in three years, as well as his third major overall.
"I think this year obviously there's a lot of focus on Tiger and Rory," Scott said. "I know what to expect out there, I think. ... I'm probably also the third wheel this week, as well. That's why I'm No. 3 in the world, otherwise I wouldn't be the third wheel, I guess."
McIlroy said he wasn't surprised by the pairing. He thinks it could help get him off to a good start.
"It's always nice to be a part of a group like that," the young Northern Irishman said. "Something that I'm excited about. It's a good thing. I like it because you're in a group like than there's a lot of buzz and a lot of atmosphere around it and it gets you focus from the first shot."