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McIlroy handed prime time slot round Augusta

Rory McIlroy will enjoy a late tee-time when he tees off for tomorrow’s first round at the Masters.

The Ulsterman will tee-off at 12.36pm with another of the game’s exciting young prospects, Colombian Camilo Villegas and American Kenny Perry, who lost out last year in the play-off to Argentine Angel Cabrera.

Graeme McDowell will be one of the first out on the Augusta National in the fifth group tomorrow at 8.34am with American David Toms and Australian John Senden.

Cabrera, the first South American to win the Masters, admits he spent “very little time” choosing the menu for last night’s champions dinner.

“It was obvious what I was going to pick,” said the 40-year-old, who went for grilled ribeye steak from his native Argentina as his main course.

“There was also a chorizo sausage starter and meat-filled empanadas as an option. The dessert was a universal dish, though — caramel crepes with ice cream.

“I just want them to enjoy, to have a great time and to really enjoy some great Argentinian meat,” added Cabrera, who beat Americans Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry in a play-off 12 months ago.

Now he is trying to join Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods as the only players to make a successful defence.

“I haven't had the greatest results lately, but I do feel the chance is out there,” he said.

Ian Poulter quit after nine holes of practice for the Masters at Augusta last night — but it was all planned. Poulter is a huge Arsenal fan and was off the course in time to see the entire Champions League quarter-final second leg against Barcelona.

The World Match Play winner had played with Paul Casey, the player he beat in the final in Tucson in February, and Lee Westwood.

They are the three leading Europeans in the world at the moment, with Westwood ranked fourth, Casey sixth and Poulter seventh, but they do not have a major between them yet.

Poulter was runner-up to Padraig Harrington in the 2008 Open at Birkdale. Westwood has finished third in the last two majors — and also at the 2008 US Open — but Casey's best finish so far was sixth on his Masters debut six years ago.

Harrington was relieved to avoid Woods in the draw.

“It's never easy being paired with Tiger in the opening two rounds at a tournament,” said the Dubliner, who's been drawn several times with Woods at the Majors though never in such dramatic circumstances.

“Guys may beat him on Thursday and Friday but sometimes they don't have as good a weekend because of all the energy they've used up.

“There's more focus and more stress, which always makes it harder when you get a big draw.

“I'm sure some guy playing with me in the Irish PGA feels the same way.”

Belfast Telegraph