Opening pairings announced for US Open at Oakmont

Following a 2015 tournament that didn't deliver the usual USGA experience, the U.S. Open returns "home" to Oakmont Country Club.

U.S. Open champions at Oakmont: Tommy Armour (1927), Sam Parks Jr. Or is it such a singular, distinctive climate compared to its major brethren that it borders on aberrational? "It really is the hardest golf course I think we've played".

Victory for Mickelson, who will turn 46 the day of the opening round at Oakmont, would make him the oldest U.S. Open victor and the sixth player to complete a career grand slam of all four major professional crowns. Now he's not even playing, missing his second straight major and third U.S. Open in the last six years as he recovers from back surgeries.

Mickelson's victory in the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield left him needing victory in the US Open to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in winning all four major championships.

At the most recent U.S. Open at Oakmont in 2007, Angel Cabrera won with a score of 5-over 285.

American young gun Spieth, a double major victor at age 22, will look to rebound from his stunning back-nine collapse at this year's Masters when he led by five strokes with nine holes to play and the coveted Green Jacket seemingly secure.

It is as tough as Pittsburgh steel, host of more U.S. Opens than any course, equal parts fabled and feared.

In 1999 at Pinehurst, he lost on the 72nd hole to Payne Stewart for his first U.S. Open second-place finish. "It's hard to say because he hasn't had a win, but you look at the record - he has 10 top-10 finishes, tied with Ernie Els among players in his generation".

It made such an impression that he told his caddie, "The best player will come out on top".

In 1950, just 16 months after breaking his pelvis, a shoulder, a rib and an ankle in a vehicle accident that nearly killed him, Ben Hogan played through extreme pain and nausea to win his second U.S. Open in an 18-hole playoff with George Fazio and Lloyd Mangrum at Merion.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy, who announced himself as a potential golfing great with a stunning eight-shot win to claim his first grand slam crown in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, has his sights set on a fifth major title.

"My memories are just how hard it was", Geoff Ogilvy said.

"I'd sign for even par right now for 72 holes, given the history, but also having played it". "Time to get ready for Oakmont".

The course: Oakmont was designed in 1903 by Henry C. Fownes, a steel magnate and accomplished amateur golfer. The eighth hole is the longest par 3 in championship golf, stretching as long as 300 yards.

The USGA museum director said putting has often let Mickelson down in the Open's final stages and would be the most crucial test at Oakmont.

  • Jo Lloyd