The "group of death" is a term most commonly used in soccer to describe when top teams find themselves paired together during the group stage of a big tournament (one of the more notable recent groups of death was at the 2012 European Championships when the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Portugal found themselves matched together).
As the U.S. Open tees off at Merion Country Club today, just outside Philadelphia, the group of death is set to grab new meaning as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are heading out onto the course together today at 4:44 p.m. ET. Now in this case, all three golfers have the ability to make the cut, unlike in soccer, but the history and talent behind this group makes it the most exciting and tantalizing threesome that may walk Merion for a long time to come.
The first thing anyone notices is the ridiculous amount of talent present between the three. Right off the bat, you have one of golf’s greatest in Woods. Although Woods hasn’t won a major in five years, he’s remained very close in the last few and has produced some extraordinarily good golf this season, winning multiple tournaments, including the Players Championship.
After Wood’s you have what some like to think of as his prodigy: Irish young blood Rory McIlroy. Mcilroy burst onto the scene last season and signed a massive NIKE contract in the winter; many thought it would be Rory’s year to clean house. So far in 2013, he’s been shaky, but don’t expect him to back down easily at Merion.
Lastl,y you have Australia’s finest in Adam Scott - last year’s Open runner-up, winner of this year’s Masters and the poster child for golf’s belly putter controversy. Although there has never been any bad blood between the golfers directly, Scott’s caddie Stevie Williams used to carry the bag for Woods from 1999-2011. Now although Williams isn’t a notable feature of this match, I’m sure his presence will stir up some conversation amongst analysts.
Despite the crazy rainfall that plagued Merion this week, I see no reason for any of these golfers not to put on a show. I predict Rory to open strong, but fall from the top later in the weekend. Look for both Woods and Scott to play steady, consistent golf through the first two rounds, keeping atop the leader board but not making major moves. Come Sunday, expect all three to be gunning for the championship.
If this year’s winner comes from the group of death, I expect it to be Woods; if not, look out for Charl Schwartzel and Phil Mickelson, some of today’s early leaders.