Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy paired together at US Open

Graeme McDowell, left, with Rory McIlroy
Graeme McDowell, left, with Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have been paired together for the opening two rounds of the US Open at Pinehurst next week.

The Ulster pair, winners of the US Open in 2010 and 2011, will be joined by 2012 champion, Webb Simpson.

While McIlroy has opted to take this week off from competitive golf, McDowell is playing in the FedEx St Jude Classic on the US PGA Tour.

The 34-year-old, who skipped the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth to spend time with his pregnant wife, has made a number of familiarisation trips to Pinehurst in recent weeks.

“I’ve seen the golf course now two and a half times,” said GMAC.

“It plays long and it’s narrow. They’re forcing you to to kind of layup a lot which is good because it’s taken some of the big hitters out of play. They’re having to lay back with the mortals like myself.

“Short game is going to be a factor. But it’s a good test of golf. I think if it gets firmer it will play a little shorter but the greens will play very difficult.”

The 2011 Open Champion, Darren Clarke, will play alongside two South Africans who also lifted the claret jug in Louis Oosthuizen and Ernie Els.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry has been paired with Kevin Stadler and Brendon De Jonge.