There was a classic episode of “Cheers” back in the day during which Cliff Clavin appeared on “Jeopardy!” and received the answer: 'Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz and Lucille LeSueur.”
His response, phrased in the form of a question, was: “Who are three people who've never been in my kitchen?”
Unless your culinary skills have been known to attract world-class golfers, this would also be a proper reaction to the 52 different first- and second-round groupings for next week’s U.S. Open.
Of course, as usual the USGA had a little fun with its pairings process, as many of the three-man groups have a little more in common than Clavin’s kitchen.
Heading the list is the “Top Three Group” consisting of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer – not only the top three players on the current Official World Golf Ranking, but the only three men to have been ranked No. 1 at some point this year.
That is hardly the only triumvirate of heavy hitters.
There’s the “Hall of Fame Group” of Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Jim Furyk. The “Frequent Fairway Group” of Retief Goosen, David Toms and Steve Stricker. The “Coulda Been A Contender Group” of Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter and Rickie Fowler.
Then there are those placed together for what they’ve already won – or haven’t won.
There’s the “Champions Group” of reigning U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell, Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen and U.S. Amateur winner Peter Uihlein. The “Masters Champions Group” of Charl Schwartzel, Trevor Immelman and Zach Johnson. The “Remember When? Group” of past major winners Padraig Harrington, Stewart Cink and Angel Cabrera. And the “Show Him How It’s Done Group” of past U.S. Open champions Geoff Ogilvy and Lucas Glover, plus a potential contender in Nick Watney.
After that, well, the USGA simply turned into golf’s version of Noah’s Ark, taking three of everything and putting ‘em together.
There’s the “Sweet Swede Group” of Henrik Stenson, Johan Edfors and Fredrik Jacobson. The “Italian Stallion Group” of Edoardo Molinari, Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero. The “Spanish Armada Group” of Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Alvaro Quiros. And the “Asian Heritage Group” of Y.E. Yang, Ryo Ishikawa and Anthony Kim.
Just in case you still didn’t believe the USGA had a sense of humor after all of those, there’s one final threesome that sounds like the result of a delirious late night of pairing all of these players. The “Rhyme Time Group” features Thomas Levet, Brian Gay and Gregory Havret.
Yeah, it’s pretty silly. But the USGA wouldn’t have it any other way.