The first round of the US Open at Pebble Beach gets underway at 7.00 a.m. local time tomorrow (Thursday) (that’s 3.00 p.m. British time) and for the first time in over a decade, Tiger Woods is in the field but not the favourite. That honour goes to Phil Mickelson (10-1) while Tiger is second favourite (11-1) and Lee Westwood, who won last week in Memphis is third favourite (12-1).
Woods attempts to repeat his heroics of 2000, when he tees off alongside Westwood and Ernie Els at 1.36 local time (9.36 p.m. British). Just after him, at 1.47 p.m. (9.47 p.m. British) Rory McIlroy starts his round alongside the Japanese star Ishikawa and the American veteran Tom Watson. Other afternoon starters include the group of Sergio Garcia, Steve Stricker and Paul Casey at 1.14 (9.14 p.m).
In the morning, Padraig Harrington goes out with Phil Mickelson and Y.E.Yang at 8.06 a.m. (4.06 p.m. British). While at 8.28 (4.28 p.m. British) Ian Poulter plays with Ikeda and Henrik Stenson.
It should be a fascinating week and given that there are 30 Europeans in the field, the chances of a first European success since Tony Jacklin’s triumph in 1970, must be a very real possibility. The band of Europeans include little known Matthew Richardson, a 25-year-old from Worcester who came through qualifying. He starts at 2.20 p.m. local (10.20 p.m. British).
For reasons known best to themselves, American television has decided to delay the third and fourth rounds. The third round is not due to finish until 4.00 a.m. British time on Sunday morning; with the fourth round due to climax at 2.00 a.m. on Monday morning. Despite this, there could be a few sleepy heads on Monday morning at British work places.