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Woods, Watson and Mickelson grouped together for U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson (L) hits from the 10th tee as Tiger Woods watches during the second round of the 108th U.S. Open golf championship at Torrey Pines in San Diego June 13, 2008.


Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson have been grouped together for the first two rounds of next week's U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

The three Americans, all winners of the Masters after Watson triumphed at Augusta National in April, will start on the ninth tee at 7:33 a.m. PDT (1433 GMT) on June 14 and from the first hole at 1:18 p.m. on June 15.

Players normally start their rounds from the first and 10th tees but tournament officials decided to send players off on the first and ninth holes for logistical reasons as the ninth tee is closer to the clubhouse.

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The last time Woods was paired with Mickelson for the first two rounds of a U.S. Open was in 2008 when he won the tournament for the third time.

The former world number one has not won a major since then but goes into next week's championship with renewed confidence after winning last week's Memorial in Ohio.

Defending U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was also put in a star-studded group alongside world number one Luke Donald and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood.

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, who was beaten by Watson in a playoff at the Masters, was paired with last year's U.S. Open runner-up, Australian Jason Day, and 2011 U.S. PGA runner-up American Jason Dufner.

Three of the sport's rising stars, Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and Americans Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, were also paired together.

South African Ernie Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion, will tee off alongside Australia's Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 winner, and Argentina's Angel Cabrera, who won the following year.

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