Reuters - Fri, 11 Jun 20:53:00 2010
World number one Tiger Woods will launch his bid for a 15th major golf title at next week's US Open in high-profile company with third-ranked Briton Lee Westwood and South African Ernie Els.
American Woods, Englishman Westwood and three-times Major champion Els are scheduled to tee off on the first hole at 1336 (2036 GMT) in Thursday's opening round at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.
The heavyweight trio will start from the 10th tee at 0806 (1506 GMT) in Friday's second round.
Woods, who romped to a 15-stroke victory when the US Open was last held at Pebble Beach in 2000, has several question marks hovering over his form next week.
He has played in only four US PGA Tour events this season, with a best finish of joint fourth at the US Masters in April and a missed cut at Quail Hollow, after he took nearly five months off following revelations of his marital infidelity.
Comfortably the best player of his generation, he has struggled for accuracy off the tee and recently parted company with his long-time swing coach Hank Haney.
"When you get off, you've got to retrace your steps," the 34-year-old said after tying for 19th at last week's Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio. "You've got to go back and take it step by step. It's a process."
American world number two Phil Mickelson, in the eyes of many the best player in the game over the last nine months, has been grouped with three-times Major winner Padraig Harrington and US PGA champion Yang Yong-eun for the first two rounds.
Mickelson, Irishman Harrington and South Korean Yang will tee off from the 10th hole at 0806 (1506 GMT) on Thursday.
US Open champion Lucas Glover, British Open winner Stewart Cink and South Korean An Byeong-hun, winner of last year's US amateur title will tee off together, while Fijian Vijay Singh has been grouped with Americans Dustin Johnson and Davis Love III.