Star-studded pairing gets early break

June, 14, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- At 7:33 a.m. PT, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson start their first round at the par-4, 449-yard ninth hole. This a good break for the star-studded group because the back nine is the easiest section of the golf course.

Holes 1 through 6 promise to give the players havoc all week, starting with the first hole, a 520-yard par-4 that was a par-5 in 1998, the last time the U.S. Open was held here at the Olympic Club. The third hole is a 247-yard par-3 that in the damp air, most players will hit hybrids. Look out for the 16th hole, a 670-yard par-5 that will take three good shots to reach in regulation. Earlier this week, Watson hit driver, driver, 60-degree wedge. If you miss the fairway off the tee, you won't make it home in three. But then there is some reprieve at the 17th, a short par-5 that will play as the easiest hole on the course during the week.

The Woods, Mickelson and Watson group is starting on the ninth hole instead of the 10th because of the logistics of the golf course. It's difficult for players to get out to the 10th, which is about 450 yards from the clubhouse.

Farrell Evans covers golf for ESPN and can be contacted at





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