- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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Tiger Woods will begin defense of his U.S. Open title on June 18 at Bethpage Black with an 8:06 a.m. (ET) pairing with Masters champion Angel Cabrera and PGA and British Open champion Padraig Harrington, according to the starting times released by the United States Golf Association.
In a departure from last year's format of putting together the first- and second-round pairings based on the Official World Golf Rankings, the USGA decided to go with the three reigning major champions. Woods, Cabrera and Harrington will go off the 10th tee at 1:36 p.m. on Friday, June 19.
Woods, who is coming off his second victory of the year at the Memorial, won last year's Open in a playoff over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Woods also won the last Open played at Bethpage in 2002.
Phil Mickelson, who is ranked No. 2 in the world and is playing despite the recent disclosure that his wife, Amy, has breast cancer, will tee off at 1:36 p.m. Thursday with South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, each of whom has won two U.S. Opens. Mickelson finished second to Woods in 2002 at Bethpage.
The USGA apparently had some fun with the groupings.
There are 156 players in the field, with tee times beginning at 7 a.m. and running through 2:42 p.m.
Bob Harig is the golf writer for ESPN.com.
Tiger Woods will begin defense of his U.S. Open title on June 18 at Bethpage Black with an 8:06 a.m. (ET) pairing with Masters champion Angel Cabrera and PGA and British Open champion Padraig Harrington.