World Number Two Rory McIlroy will begin his bid for a maiden Green Jacket alongside American Keegan Bradley and Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson when the 2013 Masters Tournaments gets underway on Thursday.
McIlroy, who was recently deposed from top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking by the resurgent Tiger Woods, will tee off at 1341 Georgia time as the eyes of the golfing world turn towards the iconic Augusta National Golf Club for the first Major Championship of the 2013 season.
Defending Champion, Bubba Watson, meanwhile, will take to the renowned layout at 1034 local time with fellow American Steven Fox, the 22 year old who won the US Amateur Championship last year, and European Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter, as the big-hitting Baghdad man looks to become the first to retain the coveted Green Jacket since Woods in 2002.
Fresh from three impressive victories already in the fledgling 2013 season, World Number One Woods will open up the first two rounds of his Masters campaign with compatriot Scott Piercy and England’s Luke Donald, while World Number Three Justin Rose, who finished in a tie for eighth place last year at Augusta, will tee up alongside Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and America’s Brand Snedeker when the 77th edition of the tournament begins later this week.
Winner of the Green Jacket in 2011, South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel will take to the famous velvet fairways of Augusta with fellow Major Champion Webb Simpson and Peter Hanson, who led the Masters with 18 holes to play in 2012 before a final-round 73 saw the Swede eventually finish in a tie for third place.
Louis Oosthuizen, meanwhile, the man who so narrowly missed out on following friend and countryman Schwartzel onto the Masters Honours Board last year as Watson narrowly prevailed in a sudden-death play-off, will play the opening two rounds with Germany’s Martin Kaymer and three-times Masters Champion, America’s Phil Mickelson.
All set to become the youngest competitor in Masters history at 14 years, 5 months and 17 days old, China’s Guan Tianlang – the winner of the fourth-annual Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last November and the youngest to play in a European Tour event after his debut at the Volvo China Open in 2012 – will tee it up with the man whose record he will vanquish on Thursday, Italy’s Matteo Manassero, and 61 year old Ben Crenshaw.
Twenty-five years after completing perhaps the most famous victory of a glittering career, 1988 Masters Champion Sandy Lyle has the honour of striking the first-tee shot proper of the 2013 tournament at 0800 local time on Thursday morning.