By Brian Keogh
Padraig Harrington has been handed a stellar draw for next week's US Open at Oakmont.
The Dubliner, 35, has been paired with two-time US Open winner Ernie Els and Masters champion Zach Johnson at the punishing Pittsburgh track.
Fifth last year, Harrington will make at early start to his title bid when he tees off on the back nine at 12.44 pm Irish time.
Els was the last man to lift the US Open at Oakmont, beating Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts in a three-way Monday play-off in 1994.
Ulsterman Graeme McDowell will also tee off on the back nine early on Thursday, playing two groups ahead of Harrington with Kirk Triplett and US Amateur runner up John Kelly
World No 1 Tiger Woods will also be out early alongside defending champion Geoff Ogilvy and Scot Richie Ramsay, the reigning US Amateur champion.
World No 2 Phil Mickelson and No 3 Vijay Singh are among the afternoon starters.
Struggling with a wrist injury, Mickelson partners Aussie Adam Scott and 2003 winner Jim Furyk with Singh alongside Sweden's Henrik Stenson and veteran Davis Love III.
Selected US Open tee-times
(12:22/17:52) A-John Kelly, Graeme McDowell, Kirk Triplett
(12:33/18:03) Colin Montgomerie, Chris DiMarco, Tim Clark
(12:44/18:14) Ernie Els, Zach Johnson, Padraig Harrington
(12:55/18:25) Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Pablo Martin
(13:06/18:36)Tiger Woods, A-Richie Ramsay, Geoff Ogilvy
(13:28/18:58) Retief Goosen, Luke Donald, Angel Cabrera
(18:14/12:44) Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, Henrik Stenson
(18:36/13:06) Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk