Koepka grouped with Molinari as American seeks third straight US Open

Brooks Koepka

US Open
Date: 13-16 June Venue: Pebble Beach, California
Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website and commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

World number one Brooks Koepka starts his quest to win a third successive US Open at 21:47 BST on Thursday, 13 June.

The American plays the first two rounds at Pebble Beach with Open champion Francesco Molinari and US Amateur champion Viktor Hovland from Norway.

Three-time winner Tiger Woods, who won his 15th major at the Masters in April, is playing with 2015 champion Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose, victor in 2013.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is out with Jon Rahm and Marc Leishman.

McIlroy is among the favourites to add to his 2011 US Open triumph, and win a fifth major, after claiming the Canadian Open title last week.

His compatriot Graeme McDowell – who won this title when it was last played at the California course in 2010 – is grouped with American world number two Dustin Johnson, who won his solitary major at the 2016 US Open, and five-time major champion Phil Mickelson.

Selected first-round tee times (full list at bottom of page)

Starting on first (all times BST)

21:47 – Francesco Molinari (Ita), Viktor Hovland (a) (Nor), Brooks Koepka (US)

21:58 – Tony Finau (US), Jimmy Walker (US), Ian Poulter (Eng)

22:09 – Jordan Spieth (US), Justin Rose (Eng), Tiger Woods (US)

Starting on 10th

15:51 – Jon Rahm (Spa), Marc Leishman (Aus), Rory McIlroy (NI)

16:13 – Dustin Johnson (US), Phil Mickelson (US), Graeme McDowell (NI)

16:24 – Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Sergio Garcia (Spa), Tommy Fleetwood (Eng)

Five Americans to watch

Tiger Woods putting on his Green Jacket

It’s hard to look beyond Koepka winning the third of the year’s four majors. He has won four of the past eight majors he has played in and is looking to become just the second man to win three successive US Open titles – the only other to do so is Scotland’s Willie Anderson from 1903-05.

The 29-year-old retained his US PGA Championship last month and finished runner-up at the Masters in April.

Don’t rule out Woods though. The 43-year-old, who is back up to fifth in the world rankings, ended an 11-year major drought by triumphing for the fifth time at Augusta National, and while he missed the cut at the US PGA in May, he won his first US Open title at Pebble Beach in 2000 – and by a record 15 shots.

The American would join Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus as a four-time winner.

Woods’ great rival Mickelson arrives on the California coast still looking for a first US Open victory on a course where he has had much success throughout his career.

He won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year, for a joint-record fifth time, but the course set-up will be much tougher this week and that is unlikely to suit his erratic driving game.

The left-hander, a six-time US Open runner-up, would become the oldest major winner were he to win on his 49th birthday on Sunday.

Dustin Johnson has an incredible recent record at his national championship. The 34-year-old finally won the tournament in 2016 after near misses in 2014 and 2015, when he finished joint fourth and joint second respectively, while he finished third last year.

And Johnson is in fine form in the majors this year, with second-place finishes at both the Masters and US PGA.

Rickie Fowler is widely regarded as the best player not to have won a major. He is often in the mix, only to fall away as the heat is turned up or throw in a bad run of holes.

He has 10 major top-10s including second at the 2018 Masters, putting him at the top of the list of active players never to have won a major.

Five Europeans to watch

Rory McIlroy celebrates winning the Canadian Open

McIlroy will be acutely aware that the last of his four major victories came almost five years ago, at the US PGA.

Since then, he’s had nine top-10 finishes in the 18 majors he’s played in – without ever really threatening to win one.

The 30-year-old, who won the 2011 US Open, has missed the cut the last three times, but comes into this year’s tournament buoyed by his seven-shot win at last week’s Canadian Open.

Tommy Fleetwood finished runner-up to Koepka last year and was fourth the year before.

He missed an eight-foot putt at the last at Shinnecock Hills in 2018 that would have seen him record the first 62 in US Open history and get into a play-off. Will the 28-year-old break his major duck this weekend?

Italian Molinari, who partnered Fleetwood so well in last year’s Ryder Cup victory, is continuing to enjoy a late blossoming in his career.

The 36-year-old followed last year’s Open Championship win with joint sixth at the US PGA.

He then went close at this year’s Masters before dunking balls in the water on the 12th and 15th holes during the final round.

It remains a surprise to many that Rose has only one major victory to his name – the 2013 US Open.

The 38-year-old has, of course, won the 2016 Olympic title since then, but further major success has continued to elude him.

He is still ranked fourth in the world though – the top English player – and cannot be ruled out.

Spaniard Rahm is yet to transfer his form on the regular PGA and European Tours – where he has six victories in the past couple of years – to the majors.

Which Rahm will turn up this week? The 24-year-old has been all-or-nothing in his last six majors, with three top 10s and three missed cuts.

The course

The seventh green at Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach is hosting the US Open for the sixth time. Jack Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 major titles, won the first in 1972, and was runner-up 10 years later after Tom Watson holed a chip from deep rough on the par-three 17th on his way to a two-shot victory.

Watson’s caddie had told him to knock it close but the American famously said: “Close? Hell, I’m going to sink it.” Nicklaus later called it “one of the great shots in the history of the game”.

The exact point from which Watson chipped in no longer exists because part of the 17th green and 18th tee was claimed by the sea during a huge storm later that year.

Tom Kite took the 1992 title at the age of 42, while Woods dominated in 2000.

The United States Golf Association brought forward by two years its visit to Pebble because it wanted a spectacular course to bring in the millennium.

Woods ripped up the course, setting numerous records as he led from start to finish. He was the only player to beat par and his winning score of 12 under was the lowest in the then 106-year history.

His 15-shot margin of victory was a record and it was the start of the ‘Tiger Slam’, with Woods going on to win The Open and US PGA in 2000 before adding the 2001 Masters title.

Northern Ireland’s McDowell famously celebrated with his dad on the 18th green after winning in 2010 there – the US Open always finishes on Father’s Day.

McDowell shot a three-over 74 in the final round but still overcame a three-shot deficit as leader Dustin Johnson had a triple bogey on the second and dropped two more on the next to fall away.

There are numerous iconic holes on the course. Perhaps the most notable are the par-three seventh and 17th holes which play out towards the Pacific Ocean, while the closing par-five 18th hugs the coastline.

Round one (all times BST)

American unless stated.

Starting on the first hole

14:45 – Sam Saunders, Carlos Ortiz (Mex), Marcus Fraser (Aus)

14:56 – Scott Piercy, Erik Van Rooyen (SA), Chun An Yu (a) (Tpe)

15:07 – Ryan Fox (NZ), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Emiliano Grillo (Arg)

15:18 – Scottie Scheffler, Matt Parziale (a), Nick Taylor (Can)

15:29 – Patton Kizzire, Jovan Rebula (a) (SA), Jason Dufner

15:40 – Li Haotong (Chn), Bubba Watson, JB Holmes

15:51 – Zach Johnson, Martin Kaymer (Ger), Ernie Els (SA)

16:02 – Kim Si-woo (Kor), Rickie Fowler, Jason Day (Aus)

16:13 – Shane Lowry (Ire), Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Gary Woodland

16:24 – Cameron Smith (Aus), Matthew Wallace (Eng), Xander Schauffele

16:35 – CT Pan (Tpe), Abraham Ancer (Mex), Brandon Wu (a)

16:46 – Chan Kim, Justin Walters (SA), Harris English

16:57 – Nick Hardy, Noah Norton (a), Andreas Halvorsen (Nor)

20:30 – Rory Sabbatini (Svk) Sam Horsfield (Eng) Roberto Castro

20:41 – Cameron Young (a), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Brian Stuard

20:52 – Luke Guthrie, Joseph Bramlett, Charlie Danielson

21:03 – Austin Eckroat (a), Alexander Noren (Swe), Charles Howell

21:14 – Thomas Pieters (Bel), Chesson Hadley, Stewart Hagestad (a)

21:25 – Paul Casey (Eng), Patrick Cantlay, Lucas Glover

21:36 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Keith Mitchell, Shugo Imahira (Jpn)

21:47 – Francesco Molinari (Ita), Viktor Hovland (a) (Nor), Brooks Koepka

21:58 – Tony Finau, Jimmy Walker, Ian Poulter (Eng)

22:09 – Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose (Eng), Tiger Woods

22:20 – Daniel Berger, Matthew Jones (Aus), Kodai Ichihara (Jpn)

22:31 – Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Chandler Eaton (a), Callum Tarren (Eng)

22:42 – Eric Dietrich, Guillermo Pereira (Chn), Brett Drewitt (Aus)

Starting on the 10th hole

14:45 – Luis Gagne (a), Sepp Straka, Julian Etulain (Arg)

14:56 – Dean Burmester (SA), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Lee Kyoung-hoon (Kor)

15:07 – Clement Sordet (Fra), Tom Hoge, Adri Arnaus (Spa)

15:18 – Brian Davis (Eng), Kevin O’Connell (a), Billy Hurley III

15:29 – Brendon Todd, Luke Donald (Eng), Mike Weir (Can)

15:40 – Kyle Stanley, Billy Horschel, Danny Willett (Eng)

15:51 – Jon Rahm (Spa), Marc Leishman (Aus), Rory McIlroy (NI)

16:02 – Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner, Bryson DeChambeau

16:13 – Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell (NI)

16:24 – Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Sergio Garcia (Spa), Tommy Fleetwood (Eng)

16:35 – Jhonattan Vegas (Ven), Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen (SA)

16:46 – Rob Oppenheim, Rhys Enoch (Wal), Richard Lee

16:57 – Andy Pope, Ryan Sullivan, Matthew Naumec

20:30 – Nathan Lashley, Renato Paratore (Ita), Lee Slattery (Eng)

20:41 – Joel Dahmen, Collin Morikawa, Aaron Wise

20:52 – Merrick Bremner (SA), Chip McDaniel, Cody Gribble

21:03 – Michael Thorbjornsen (a), Chez Reavie, David Toms

21:14 – Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spa), Kevin Na, Keegan Bradley

21:25 – Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson (Swe), Brandt Snedeker

21:47 – Webb Simpson, Adam Scott (Aus), Matt Kuchar

21:58 – An Byeong-hun (Kor), Devon Bling (a), Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng)

22:09 – Justin Harding (SA), Aaron Baddeley (Aus), Andrew Putnam

22:20 – Ollie Schniederjans, Mikumu Horikawa (Jpn), Anirban Lahiri (Ind)

22:31 – Daniel Hillier (a) (NZ), Alex Prugh, Zac Blair

22:42 – Hayden Shieh, Spencer Tibbits (a), Connor Arendell

Round two

Starting on the first hole

14:45 – Nathan Lashley, Renato Paratore (Ita), Lee Slattery (Eng)

14:56 – Joel Dahmen, Collin Morikawa, Aaron Wise

15:07 – Merrick Bremner (SA), Chip McDaniel, Cody Gribble

15:18 – Michael Thorbjornsen (a), Chez Reavie, David Toms

15:29 – Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spa), Kevin Na, Keegan Bradley

15:40 – Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson (Swe), Brandt Snedeker

15:51 – Luke List, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Branden Grace (SA)

16:02 – Webb Simpson, Adam Scott (Aus), Matt Kuchar

16:13 – An Byeong-hun (Kor), Devon Bling (a), Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng)

16:24 – Justin Harding (SA), Aaron Baddeley (Aus), Andrew Putnam

16:35 – Ollie Schniederjans, Mikumu Horikawa (Jpn), Anirban Lahiri (Ind)

16:46 – Daniel Hillier (a) (NZ), Alex Prugh, Zac Blair

16:57 – Hayden Shieh, Spencer Tibbits (a), Connor Arendell

20:30 – Luis Gagne (a), Sepp Straka, Julian Etulain (Arg)

20:41 – Dean Burmester (SA), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Lee Kyoung-hoon (Kor)

20:52 – Clement Sordet (Fra), Tom Hoge, Adri Arnaus (Spa)

21:03 – Brian Davis (Eng), Kevin O’Connell (a), Billy Hurley III

21:14 – Brendon Todd, Luke Donald (Eng), Mike Weir (Can)

21:25 – Kyle Stanley, Billy Horschel, Danny Willett (Eng)

21:36 – Jon Rahm (Spa), Marc Leishman (Aus), Rory McIlroy (NI)

21:47 – Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner, Bryson DeChambeau

21:58 – Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell (NI)

22:09 – Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Sergio Garcia (Spa), Tommy Fleetwood (Eng)

22:20 – Jhonattan Vegas (Ven), Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen (SA)

22:31 – Rob Oppenheim, Rhys Enoch (Wal), Richard Lee

22:42 – Andy Pope, Ryan Sullivan, Matthew Naumec

Starting on the 10th hole

14:45 – Rory Sabbatini (Svk), Sam Horsfield (Eng), Roberto Castro

14:56 – Cameron Young (a), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Brian Stuard

15:07 – Luke Guthrie, Joseph Bramlett, Charlie Danielson

15:18 – Austin Eckroat (a), Alexander Noren (Swe), Charles Howell

15:29 – Thomas Pieters (Bel), Chesson Hadley, Stewart Hagestad (a)

15:40 – Paul Casey (Eng), Patrick Cantlay, Lucas Glover

15:51 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Keith Mitchell, Shugo Imahira (Jpn)

16:02 – Francesco Molinari (Ita), Viktor Hovland (a) (Nor), Brooks Koepka

16:13 – Tony Finau, Jimmy Walker, Ian Poulter (Eng)

16:24 – Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose (Eng), Tiger Woods

16:35 – Daniel Berger, Matthew Jones (Aus), Kodai Ichihara (Jpn)

16:46 – Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Chandler Eaton (a), Callum Tarren (Eng)

16:57 – Eric Dietrich, Guillermo Pereira (Chi), Brett Drewitt (Aus)

20:30 – Sam Saunders, Carlos Ortiz (Mex), Marcus Fraser (Aus)

20:41 – Scott Piercy, Erik Van Rooyen (SA), Yu Chun-An (a) (Tpe)

20:52 – Ryan Fox (NZ), Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Emiliano Grillo (Arg)

21:03 – Scottie Scheffler, Matt Parziale (a), Nick Taylor (Can)

21:14 – Patton Kizzire, Jovan Rebula (a) (SA), Jason Dufner

21:25 – Li Haotong (Chn), Bubba Watson, JB Holmes

21:36 – Zach Johnson, Martin Kaymer (Ger), Ernie Els (SA)

21:47 – Kim Si-woo (Kor), Rickie Fowler, Jason Day (Aus)

21:58 – Shane Lowry (Ire), Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Gary Woodland

22:09 – Cameron Smith (Aus), Matthew Wallace (Eng), Xander Schauffele

22:20 – CT Pan (Tpe), Abraham Ancer (Mex), Brandon Wu (a)

22:31 – Chan Kim, Justin Walters (SA), Harris English

22:42 – Nick Hardy, Noah Norton (a), Andreas Halvorsen (Nor)

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