As soon as the groupings for the U.S. Open were announced last week, golf fans and the media immediately began salivating over the prospects of following a Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson-Bubba Watson threesome. But what about the players? How would they react to being grouped together, and the undoubted circus atmosphere that would follow?
Tuesday is the day where players speak with the press, and all three in the power group held their press conferences at Olympic. The subject of the USGA's pairing system was an obvious topic, and all three seemed excited to play together. Woods indicated that there won't be much talking, but that's just the nature of the U.S. Open, where perfect concentration and precision are demanded on every single shot.
Mickelson was much more animated about being paired with Woods, referring to it with a prompt and empathic "fabulous" when asked. Phil said he's been battling lethargy on his Thursday and Friday rounds on Tour this year, but Woods always brings the best out of him -- a marked change from the start of their careers. It was never more evident than earlier this season when Mickelson pulled away from Woods in the final group at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. On the more practical side, Lefty also noted that they'll both have to deal with the same conditions, via Ron Sirak of Golf Digest:
"The one player I'm most concerned about if I play my best golf that may have a chance to beat me is Tiger," Mickelson said, swatting away the other 154 players in the field. "And the fact that we are on the same wavelength, I'm always in favor of. Sometimes we'll get a huge advantage in tee times, based on weather conditions or whatnot, if we're in the same wavelength, neither of us will have a distinct advantage."
Come Thursday morning, all eyes will be on this group and based on the attitude and approach taken today, it would seem Mickelson has the advantage when it comes to playing together.