Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

McDowell matched with Tiger

Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell, conqueror of Tiger Woods in a play-off in December, will face him again in the first two rounds of The Masters on Thursday and Friday.

McDowell, the current US Open champion, tees off with Woods and Australian Robert Allenby at 10.41am in the first round and in the penultimate group at 1.48pm in the second round.

Woods is without a victory since November 2009, but at the Target World Challenge he led by four with a round to go before being caught and then beaten by the Northern Irishman.

McDowell now goes into the opening major of the season as the world number five and Woods as the number seven following Phil Mickelson's win in Houston on Sunday.

Mickelson begins his defence of the title alongside Australia's Geoff Ogilvy and, in keeping with tradition at the event, American amateur champion Peter Uihlein. They are the last-but-one group at 1.48pm on Thursday and go out at 10.30am the following day.

England's Lee Westwood, runner-up to Mickelson a year ago, is with German Martin Kaymer, the player who took the world number one spot off him in February, and American Matt Kuchar. Kaymer, of course, won golf's last major at the US PGA Championship in August, but has missed the halfway cut in all three Masters he has played.

Luke Donald, Kaymer's tip for the title after the way he beat him in the final of the World Match Play six weeks ago, plays alongside 1992 winner Fred Couples and Steve Stricker.

In a grouping of three "young guns", meanwhile, Rory McIlroy partners American Rickie Fowler and Australian Jason Day. Their combined age is 66.

Once again the tournament will begin with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus - 81 and 71 respectively - acting as honorary starters. The two legends of the game will each hit a drive off the first tee at 7.40am before retiring to the clubhouse.

England's Ross Fisher, whose wife is due to give birth to their second child next Tuesday, will follow Palmer and Nicklaus along with Americans Jonathan Byrd and Sean O'Hair.

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