Late Masters start for Tiger

2015-04-07 19:00
Tiger Woods (AFP)

Augusta - Tiger Woods will tee off in the penultimate grouping of the 79th Masters on Thursday, marking his return to competition after two months on the sidelines striving to put his game back together.

The 39-year old former world number one will set off in the company of Welsh Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson and in-form fellow American Jimmy Walker.

Woods last played on February 5 when back pain forced him to abandon after 11 holes of the first round of the Farmers Insurance tournament at Torrey Pines.

Since then, his return to Augusta National and the Masters for the first time in two years had been in doubt until he gave it the thumbs up after playing a practice round on the course on Friday.

"I'm exited to be here. There is no other tournament like this.

"Competing again and really looking forward to Thursday," he said.

"I spent a lot of time and a lot of work on this. I've been working my ass off. That's the easiest way to kind of describe it. I worked hard."

Woods will be seeking a fifth Masters crown this week and a 15th major title, his most recent one coming in June 2008 at the US Open.

While the focus later on in the first day will surely fall on the Woods grouping, which tees off at 19:48 (SA time), the biggest draw in earlier morning play will see world number one Rory McIlroy partner three-time former winner Phil Mickelson and Ryan Moore.

The 25-year-old Northern Irishman has won the last two majors - at the British Open and PGA Championship - and he could become just the sixth player to complete the set of Grand Slam titles, having also won the 2011 US Open.

"I enjoy playing with Phil. I've played with him a couple times before," McIlroy said of Mickelson.

"There's always a good buzz here at Augusta, Phil's done so well. Not sure I've ever played with Phil here before. It will be good."

Defending champion Bubba Watson, who would be just the fourth player to successfully defend the Masters title with a victory on Sunday, will open early morning alongside 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose and South Korean amateur Gunn Yang.

Other top groupings see 2012 Masters champion Adam Scott play with strongly fancied Dustin Johnson and Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion Antonio Murdaca of Australia, with Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler providing a strong anchor at the end of the day.

"Let's see if we can get some momentum going. We all know how to play well around here," said Fowler of the final trio.

For the fourth straight year, golfing legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will fulfill the role of honorary starters, getting the balls rolling at 13:40.

Groups for Thursday's opening round of the 79th Masters golf tournament at par-72 Augusta National:

13:45: Charley Hoffman (USA), Brian Harman (USA)
13:56: Larry Mize (USA), Danny Willett (ENG), Byron Meth (USA)
14:07: Tom Watson (USA), Gary Woodland (USA), Camilo Villegas (COL)
14:18: Mike Weir (CAN), Ben Crane (USA), Corey Conners (CAN)
14:29: Vijay Singh (FIJ), Russell Henley (USA), Darren Clarke (NIR)
14:40: Jose Maria Olazabal (ESP), Brendon Todd (USA), Kevin Na (KOR)
14:51: Jonas Blixt (SWE), Kevin Streelman (USA), Stephen Gallacher (SCO)
15:02: Patrick Reed (USA), Keegan Bradley (USA), Ian Poulter (ENG)
15:13: Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), Lee Westwood (ENG), Anirban Lahiri (IND)
15:24: Bubba Watson (USA), Justin Rose (ENG), Yang Gunn (KOR)
15:35: Adam Scott (AUS), Dustin Johnson (USA), Antonio Murdaca (AUS)
15:46: OPEN
15:57: Morgan Hoffmann (USA), Steve Stricker (USA), Matt Every (USA)
16:08: Ben Crenshaw (USA), Bill Haas (USA), Jason Dufner (USA)
16:19: Webb Simpson (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Paul Casey (ENG)
16:30: Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Joost Luiten (NED), Bae Sang-Moon (KOR)
16:41: Phil Mickelson (USA), Rory McIlroy (NIR), Ryan Moore (USA)
16:52: J.B. Holmes (USA), Martin Kaymer (GER), Brandt Snedeker (USA)
17:03: Ian Woosnam (WAL), Erik Compton (USA)
17:14: Trevor Immelman (RSA), Kevin Stadler (USA), Scott Harvey (USA)
17:25: Ben Martin (USA), Robert Streb (USA), Cameron Tringale (USA)
17:36: Sandy Lyle (SCO), Noh Seung-Yul (KOR), Bradley Neil (SCO)
17:47: Bernhard Langer (GER), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Geoff Ogilvy (AUS)
17:58: OPEN
18:09: Zach Johnson (USA), Jim Furyk (USA), Ernie Els (RSA)
18:20: Angel Cabrera (ARG), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Matias Dominguez (CHI)
18:31: Mark O'Meara (USA), Chris Kirk (USA), Shane Lowry (IRL)
18:42: Padraig Harrington (IRL), Ryan Palmer (USA), Thomas Bjorn (DEN)
18:53: James Hahn (KOR), Mikko Ilonen (FIN), Hunter Mahan (USA)
19:04: Matt Kuchar (USA), Brooks Koepka (USA), Graeme McDowell (NIR)
19:15: Jordan Spieth (USA), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Billy Horschel (USA)
19:26: Fred Couples (USA), Branden Grace (RSA), Thongchai Jaidee (THA)
19:37: Luke Donald (ENG), Victor Dubuisson (FRA), John Senden (AUS)
19:48: Tiger Woods (USA), Jamie Donaldson (WAL), Jimmy Walker (USA)
19:59: Jason Day (AUS), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Rickie Fowler (USA)

Read more on:    pga tour  |  masters  |  tiger woods  |  golf

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