US Open teams World’s top three

The World’s top three have been grouped together for the first two rounds of the US Open in a draw that has respected tradition.

Graeme McDowell will begin his US Open defence next week alongside Louis Oosthuizen and amateur Peter Uihlein while Europe’s world Nos 1, 2 and 3 are all grouped together

Sticking to tradition, the USGA have grouped together for next week’s 111th US Open at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, McDowell, the reigning US Open Champion with Oosthuizen and Uihlein because they are, respectively, the current (British) Open Champion and the reigning US Amateur champion

The draw for the 156-man field, as released on Friday, shows that McDowell and his trio will be among the early starters next Thursday, but will then tee-off late on Friday.

McDowell won his first major title at the US Open at Pebble Beach last year with an even-par, four-round tally, Oosthuizen, in his maiden major victory, was a surprise runaway winner of the British Open on the Old Course at St Andrews and Uihlein is the current US Amateur champion who, in the early 1900s was regarded as a much more important champion than the winner of the US Open.

In another interesting grouping, this week’s world number one, Luke Donald is set to tee off on the first day at Congressional with English compatriot Lee Westwood, the World No 2 and Germany’s Martin Kaymer, the World No 3.

Over the past eight months or so, the three have all taken turns in the hot seat since long-time No 1 Tiger Woods relinquished his grip on the top spot and saw Westwood snatch it up.

Kaymer, however, is the only one of the three who owns a major tile. He is the current US PGA Championship.

For the first time in 15 years, Woods, still battling with ankle and Achilles heel injuries, will be not playing in next week’s US Open.

American Phil Mickelson, a Masters and US PGA Champion who has finished runner-up at the US Open on five occasions but never won it, has been grouped alongside Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, two of the game’s biggest hitters – a recently, biggest missers..

Ironically, or is it? Johnson and McIlroy have both led majors during the past year, but each came apart at the seams in the final round, Johnson at Pebble Beach this time last year, and McIlroy in this year’s Masters in April.

The USGA this year have used nationality to define some of their groupings.

Sergio Garcia is in the same group as fellow Spaniards Miguel Angel Jimenez and Alvaro Quiros, while the Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari are teamed with teenaged fellow countryman Matteo Manassero.

On the other hand the reigning Masters champion, Charl Schwartzel, will be playing with only one other South African, Trevor Immelman.

The third member of this threesome is American Zach Johnson because, like Schwartzel and Immelman, he is the owner of a Masters green jacket.

Another South African, Ernie Els, who won the US Open when it was last played at Congressional in 1997, will tee off alongside two other seasoned major winners Davis Love III and Jim Furyk.

Colin Montgomerie, who was edged out of what would have been his first and only major title at Congressional, is not in the field this year, having failed to qualify via any of the qualifying routes.