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2015 U.S. Open: And so it begins...
By Torleif Sorenson on 6/18/15
After stepping onto the first tee at 7:00 a.m. PD at Chambers Bay Golf Course, Michael Putnam (who grew up right there in University Place, Washington) struck the first tee-shot of the 115th United States Open Championship — and walked off the first green with a bogey.

(We are certain that Mike Davis was probably secretly satisfied with that.)

The world's preeminent national championship is underway. The first birdie came from American Cody Gribble, one of Jordan Spieth's University of Texas golf teammates. Gribble is in the fifth group.

The first bogey came from American Josh Persons, who triple-bogeyed the 10th hole, which is where his round started. (We send our sympathy and a proverbial bottle of Bactine™ to Josh.)

Notable groupings

All times PDT. World Golf Ranking in parentheses.

GROUP 7, 7:33 a.m. (1): Phil Mickelson (#17), Bubba Watson (#4), Ángel Cabrera (#119)
Two of them have two majors, while Lefty has five. But some people think that this may represent Mickelson's last "best chance" to win that elusive U.S. Open title — and the career Grand Slam.

GROUP 15, 8:17 a.m. (1): Henrik Stenson (#6), Francesco Molinari (#43), Brandt Snedeker (#30)
The big Swede is the highest-ranked player in the bunch, but both the Italian and the American have displayed flashes of brilliance in the past. It is not inconceivable that any of these three can display the tenacity and patience needed to win a major — especially on a frustratingly difficult layout like Chambers Bay.

GROUP 16, 8:17 a.m. (10): Dustin Johnson (#7), Adam Scott (#12), Sergio García (#8)
The Spaniard burst onto the scene in 1999 and has starred in many Ryder Cups — but is still without a major championship. The Australian triumphed at Augusta National after a close call at the Open Championship. Even then, fans are wondering if he can win one last time with a broomstick putter — and whether he can ever be a factor again after the ban on anchored putting next year. The tall, lanky American suffered a penalty-laden finish at Whistling Straits a few years back. Having cleaned up his life, D.J. now seems better-prepared to break through in the majors, having won a WGC at Doral.

GROUP 18, 8:28 a.m. (10): Martin Kaymer (#19), Gunn Yang (amateur, #1212), Rory McIlroy (#1)
The defending U.S. Open champion, the defending U.S. Amateur champion from South Korea, and the world's number-one. Yang is not expected to win, but he stands to gain a lot of experience playing alongside two of golf's marquee stars. The gallery following this group should be overwhelmingly huge.

GROUP 41, 2:17 p.m. (1): Jordan Spieth (#2), Jason Day (#10), Justin Rose (#5)
The J-Crew. Spieth (the reigning Masters champion) is the biggest challenger to McIlroy's dominance, of course, but Rose himself is the 2013 U.S. Open champion from Merion. Five of his seven professional victories are quite prominent: The Memorial and the AT&T National in 2010, the 2011 BMW in the playoffs, and the 2012 WGC-Cadillac at Doral. Jason Day is the world's #10, and has played consistently over the last three years, despite a nagging thumb injury. He won the 2014 WGC-Match Play, as well as this year's Farmers at Torrey Pines.

Day is this writer's "non-dark horse dark horse" this week.


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