Big Easy making big statement at Erin Hills

Five-time major victor Phil Mickelson has withdrawn from the US Open after good weather ended his slim chances of making a last-minute dash to Erin Hills.

This year's championship gets under way when the first pairings tee off at 6.45 am local time (1145 GMT) on Thursday.

The five-time major victor, who is due to attend his daughter's high school graduation in San Diego this morning, is still on the entry list for the tournament and is scheduled to tee it up alongside Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker at 2.20pm [8.20pm United Kingdom time]. It definitely helped with my preparation coming in because I knew I wasn't going to get here until Tuesday afternoon.

The 46-year-old, five-times major victor needs the U.S. Open to complete his collection of majors.

He felt the USGA was already a victor, however, for choosing Erin Hills as a first-time major venue.

Johnson, who has been installed as the favourite for this week's title in Wisconsin, described his unusual major championship build up as an "awesome couple of days". But there are questions over their form.

American young guns world number five Jordan Spieth, the 2015 U.S. Open victor, and number nine Rickie Fowler, zeroing in on a maiden major, will spearhead the American charge along with Johnson.

"I think it sets up very well for me", Johnson said.

"We looked at some spots and we said this is simply not going to play properly".

"You can say it is not a classic U.S. Open course".

"Really? We have 60 yards from left line to right line on the fairway", McIlroy said when informed of the decision.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain and runner-up Justin Rose of England drive the ball just about as well as anyone, as does Australian Adam Scott, while South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen are always a threat.

  • Julie Sanders