Hooray for Jeff Maggert and John Merrick, who currently lead the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Exactly four people have them active in fantasy golf leagues. The much more exciting news on Thursday was that the US Open pairings were released -- speaking of which, you need to register for our US Open game, where (for $10) you can win $1,000. The USGA always has a sense of humor about all of this, so let's take a look at how a bunch of crusty old white guys seek to entertain themselves:
10. Tim Clark, Tori Taniguchi, Rod Pampling. Pampling is generously listed at 5'10, which makes him the tallest player in this group by three inches. Let's call this the Tyrion Lannister or Spud Webb pairing.
9. Alberto Quiros/Gary Woodland/John Senden. Some will call it the bombers group -- all can move it off the tee. But there might not be a putt made outside of two feet on Olympic's unpredictable greens. These guys are great in scrambles, but Senden is probably the only one with a chance to make the cut.
8. Carl Pettersson/Charl Schwartzel/Charles Howell III. Carl, Charl and Charles. Funny.
7. YE Yang/KJ Choi/KT Kim. The all-initials, all Korean pairing. I'm sure JB Park will play with them in the practice round, too. At least they can speak to one another during the round, unlike Park's actual pairing...
6. Jason Bohn/Raphael Jacquelin/JB Park. USA, France, Korea. They all hate each other! Plenty of shared experiences, I'm sure. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.
5. Jason Day/Louis Oosthuizen/Jason Dufner. The best golf swings from Australia, South Africa and the US, respectively. Will not be surprising if any of them contend. Day is the only one who could be accused of having a heartbeat, however.
4. Steve Stricker/Ian Poulter/Matt Kuchar. A Stars-and-Stripes sandwich with an outspoken Englishman. Stricks and Kooch are the types of guys who walk old ladies across the street in rush hour traffic. Poulter… probably wouldn't want to risk get his custom trousers soiled. If the course is playing difficult (as it will), the Americans will tell you that is was a good test, while the Brit will tweet that someone said something in the gallery and there were spike marks everywhere that caused him to score poorly. Still, this group is one to watch -- three of the best players in the world.
3. Casey Martin/Cameron Wilson/Dennis Miller. Martin will get all the headlines as he did in 1998, when he petitioned the USGA to use a cart because of his disability. He eventually took it to the Supreme Court and won, so he'll be on four wheels next weekend. He'll be joined by another Stanford Cardinal, Wilson, who already has a very distinguished amateur career. But to me Miller is the most heart-warming story -- a club pro from Youngstown, Ohio, who has attempted to qualify for the Open 12 times, made a 12-foot par putt in the sectional playoff, then drained this lip-hanging putt to earn his spot in the field. If any of these guys make an appearance on the leaderboard it will be impossible not to root for him.
2. Rory McIlroy/Luke Donald/Lee Westwood. Ah, the tabloids and Twittersphere will be all over this one. Last year, Rors had a public split with Euro super agent Chubby Chandler -- Westwood's right-hand man. There was plenty of bad blood over that one. Rors and Luke have been swapping the World No. 1 spot all season, so there's another talking point for the talking heads. Oh, and Westwood was the last World No. 1 before those two. This is the meat of the European Ryder Cup team, so if you're an American you can feel free to boo at your tele.
1. Featured pairing: Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson/Bubba Watson. Don't snap a photo, sneeze, exhale, or even think of strippers around this group. This is a recipe for disaster, actually. Phil TEXTED Tour commissioner Tim Finchem during his round at Memorial that too many people were taking photos of him during his swing, and promptly withdrew from the event (he was 'tired' evidently). Bubba backed him up and had some complaints himself. Tiger isn't exactly the most gallery-friendly guy in the entire world, either. Beyond that, it will be surprising if we see a shot of another group during the telecasts on Thursday or Friday. Casey Martin might sneak in there -- no one can resist a shot of a golf cart. The irony is that this group will be slow because of the galleries, which will probably get Kevin Na's group -- playing right in front of them -- off the hook.
Special interest: Jeff Curl, an American Indian who qualified via the sectional. His father, Rod, was the first full-blooded Indian to win a PGA Tour event, beating Jack Nicklaus at the 1974 Colonial. Jeff is a Nationwide player who has had modest success, but is coming off a t6 at his last event, the Rex Hospital Open.
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Photo: US Presswire