AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Tiger Woods, set to attract huge crowds on his much hyped return to the Masters, has been grouped with fellow American Jimmy Walker and Welshman Jamie Donaldson for Thursday’s first round at Augusta National.
Four-times champion Woods, who missed the Masters last year while recovering from back surgery, will be competing for the first time in two months after a self-imposed absence from the PGA Tour due to poor form.
Woods, Donaldson and Walker, a double winner on the 2014-15 PGA Tour, will tee off in the penultimate group of the day at 1:48 p.m. EDT (1748 GMT).
Northern Ireland’s world number one Rory McIlroy will launch his bid for a third consecutive major victory, and a career grand slam, in the company of Americans Ryan Moore and three-times Masters winner Phil Mickelson.
McIlroy, who is seeking his first green jacket at the picturesque ‘Cathedral of Pines’, and his playing partners are scheduled to tee off at 10:41 a.m. on Thursday.
In other groupings, 2013 champion Adam Scott of Australia will set off with long-hitting American Dustin Johnson and Australian amateur Antonio Murdaca while 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa has been paired with Dutchman Joost Luiten and South Korean Bae Sang-moon.
Defending champion Bubba Watson, aiming to become the sixth triple winner at Augusta National, will launch his title defense in the company of U.S. amateur champion Gunn Yang of South Korea and England’s Justin Rose.
Spaniard Sergio Garcia, American Rickie Fowler and Australian Jason Day, who has recorded top-three finishes at the Masters twice in the last four years, will tee off in the final group of the day on Thursday.
First off at 7:45 a.m., following ceremonial tee shots by golfing greats Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, will be Americans Charley Hoffman and Brian Harman.
Editing by Frank Pingue