The USGA might have had a little too much fun with one of its groupings for this year's U.S. Open.
The governing body likes to create themed pairings for its tournament -- players from the same state, former Masters champions, etc. And one grouping this year has ruffled some feathers.
The 1:14 p.m. grouping off the 10th tee at Pinehurst on Thursday consisted of Brendon de Jonge, Shane Lowry and Kevin Stadler. Each of these men is north of 220 pounds -- de Jonge is listed at 230, Lowry is at 225 and Stadler is 250.
Staddler's caddie, Shannon Wallis, had some fun with the pairing, calling the group "The Heavyweights." But not everyone was laughing.
“I think the USGA is a little mean and insensitive, but that’s just the way it goes,” Stadler told the Golf Channel. “They’re invoking their 5-year-old sense of humor.”
Lowry, who has lost 18 pounds in the last six months, was equally displeased.
“When I saw it, I was pretty annoyed,” he said. “I think it’s very cheeky of the USGA to do what they’ve done. I don’t think it’s fair to the three of us. It’s a mockery, to be honest.”
Jeff Hall, the USGA's managing director of rules and competitions, admitted that there are some themes and that the idea is part of the tournament's tradition. But he rejected the notion that de Jonge, Lowry and Stadler were grouped together because of their weight. He instead pointed to their similar world rankings as the basis for the pairing.
Stadler is 59th in the world, Lowry is 71st and de Jonge is 80th.
“It certainly wasn’t the case that we were trying to do anything," Hall said. "But if you look at the three, they’re all pretty comparable as far as the world rankings.”
While Lowry and Stadler were irked, de Jonge actually got a kick out of the grouping.
“I was actually pretty amused by it,” he said. “I wasn't offended at all.”
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