Tiger, Rory, Scott paired at U.S. Open

Three-time champion Tiger Woods, 2011 titlist Rory McIlroy and Masters winner Adam Scott will play the first two rounds together at the U.S. Open starting next Thursday at Merion.

The trio, who are ranked one through three in the world, will start on the first hole at 1:14 p.m. ET on Thursday, and then will go off the 11th tee at 7:44 a.m. on Friday.

Woods is in the midst of a dominant season, having already captured four wins and a fourth-place finish, while missing just one cut in nine events in 2013.

He is coming off a disappointing 65th-place finish at the Memorial, but is by far the favorite to earn his first major victory since his 2008 win over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines thanks to his strong putting this year.

McIlroy, meanwhile, is struggling through an up-and-down season that has included three top-10 finishes, a pair of missed cuts and a withdrawal. He has missed the cut in two of this last three appearances at the U.S. Open.

Scott has put together a strong season with four finishes inside the top 20 to go along with his Masters victory. He finished a career-best 15th at the U.S. Open last year.

Teeing off directly before the top three players in the world are former U.S. Open champions Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, and former Masters winner Zach Johnson.

Ahead of that group is the European triumvirate of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. The two Englishman in the group, Donald and Westwood, are still searching for their first major championship, while the German Kaymer won PGA Championship in 2010.

Kicking off the morning wave on the 11th tee Thursday is the trio of 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson, long-hitter Dustin Johnson and European Ryder Cup team standout Nicolas Colsaerts.

That group is followed by Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker. Mickelson is still searching for his first U.S. Open title. He and Bradley impressed during last year's Ryder Cup, going undefeated in their match play outings.

After that trio, Matt Kuchar, world No. 4 Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker will tee off. Kuchar joins Tiger Woods as the only players with multiple PGA Tour victories this season, while Snedeker has been inconsistent since returning from a rib injury.

Also starting on No. 11 Thursday is the pairing of Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassero and Jason Day. Fowler is one of the few competitors in the field who has played Merion under tournament conditions, going 4-0 at the 2009 Walker Cup. The 20-year-old Manassero, meanwhile, has performed well this season, picking up his fourth European Tour victory at the BMW PGA Championship in May. Day finished runner-up to McIlroy at the U.S. Open in 2011.

Defending champion Webb Simpson, who played in the 2005 U.S. Amateur at Merion, is paired with Ernie Els and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox. That group goes off from No. 1 at 1:36 p.m. ET on Thursday.