The Masters - Golf: Woods grouping headlines at Augusta

06 April 2022 19:43:36 GMTPlus10
The return of Tiger Woods is headline news this week

The groupings for the first two days of action at The Masters have been revealed and, as often is the case, Tiger Woods has once again grabbed the headlines.

It seemed incomprehensible to think that the 15-time major winner would be teeing it up at Augusta National this week after his career-threatening car cash in February last year, but he is all set to make his 24th appearance in the Georgia spectacle, which you can follow on our Live Golf Tracker.

We take a look at some of the three-balls to anticipate come round one and two on Thursday and Friday.

Huge following for headline group

Woods, who is 45/1 to win a record-equalling sixth Green Jacket, is sure to have a huge following for his 15:34 tee time on Thursday after being grouped with 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Genesis Invitational winner Joaquin Niemann.

The American will be looking to add to his already incredible record at the US Masters, with five victories, two runner-up finishes, a third place, 12 top-5s and 14 top-10 results from his 23 outings. Only once has he missed the cut in the first major of the year, that coming way back in 1996.

However, there are still doubts over how Woods, who is 23/10 to win his first-round three-ball, will handle the physical aspect this week, but he did reveal in Tuesday's press conference that he wouldn't be playing if he didn't think he could win. Could we be in for another sensational storyline?

The 46-year-old is joined by South African Oosthuizen over the first two days and the latter came desperately close to winning a Green Jacket in 2012, when he lost out to Bubba Watson in a nerve-jangling playoff.

Oosthuizen's form doesn't make for great reading heading, as he hasn't recorded a top-10 finish from his last 11 starts, but he often saves his best for the biggest stage and he is 7/5 to win Thursday's three-ball.

Making up this grouping is Chilean Niemann and there is every chance he could outscore his two rivals, on offer at 17/10, over the opening 18 holes.

The 23-year-old landed his second PGA Tour title this year at the Genesis Invitational and that victory could be telling based on the history of the event.

Historically, players that have triumphed at Riviera Country Club have gone on to perform well at Augusta, with Nick Faldo, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson just four players that have won the Genesis and the Masters.

Will the Scheff serve up another tasty dish?

It has been a meteoric rise for Scottie Scheffler and the world number one will be heading out at 15:56 on Thursday alongside fellow American Tony Finau and Australian Adam Scott, who claimed the spoils here in 2013 and is 55/1 to repeat that trick.

Scheffler only won his maiden PGA Tour title at the Phoenix Open in February this year, but he has since gone on to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and then the WGC Match Play a couple of weeks later.

The US star has finished T19 and T18 from his two previous appearances at Augusta and he is 5/4 to win his three-ball on Thursday, while Finau is 2/1 and Scott is available at 11/5.

Stellar trio out late

The 18:30 grouping, who go out fourth last on day one, will garner huge attention as 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson is joined by reigning Open champion Collin Morikawa and 2014 FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel.

World number eight Johnson has three top-10 finishes from his last five outings coming into this week and he will fancy his chance of landing a second Green Jacket at odds of 16/1.

The 37-year-old is 13/10 to win his three-ball but he won't have everything his own way, with Morikawa looking to add a third major title to his collection.

Having won the 2020 US PGA and the 2021 Open, Morikawa could be a serious threat this week with his iron play, which is arguably the best in the world, likely to give him an edge.

The US ace is 6/4 to win Thursday's three-ball, while Horschel, who has never recorded a top-10 finish at the US Masters, is 14/5 to outscore his compatriots.

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Can '80 per-cent' Bryson compete?

Bryson DeChambeau says he is only at 80 per-cent fit after rushing himself back from injury too soon and it will be interesting to see how he gets on over the first two days.

The big-hitting American goes off at 15:23 on Thursday alongside England's Paul Casey, who has been struggling with a back injury, and Australian Cameron Smith.

Smith arrives in superb form, having clinched The Players on his last outing, and he has warm affinity for Augusta National with finishes of T55, T5, T51, T2 and T10.

The 28-year-old is 23/20 to win his three-ball on the opening 18 holes, while DeChambeau can be backed at 11/5 and Casey is priced at 9/4.

Final grouping catches the eye

Thursday's final grouping, out at 19:03, is sure to draw huge attention with Rory McIlroy, 20/1 to win The Masters and complete the Grand Slam, in that trio.

The Northern Irishman has been longing for his first Green Jacket for some time now and he will be playing alongside Brooks Koepka and Matt Fitzpatrick over the first two days.

Koepka, a four-time major winner like McIlroy, heads into this tournament slightly under the radar and that could be to the peril of the field as he often turns up for the biggest events.

Englishman Fitzpatrick could be in danger of getting overpowered by his two rivals, although the Sheffield-born star's accuracy off the tee should give him an advantage on certain holes.

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