The 89th Masters will officially begin at 8 a.m., after the ceremonial first tee balls by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, when Daniel Summerhays and Russell Henley tee off in the first of 32 groups.
Here are the 10 best groups for Thursday-Friday at Augusta National:
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10. Angel Cabrera, Henrik Stenson, Tyrrell Hatton, 12:46 p.m./9:28 a.m.
This group features a past Masters champion (Cabrera), a veteran who has the tools to do well at Augusta but hasn’t figured it out yet (Stenson), and one of the hottest golfers on the planet right now (Hatton). Stenson has missed his last two cuts this season and feels “all right” entering the Masters, but if you’ve never seen Stenson hit a 3-wood, you need to. Hatton is a great young talent who leads the PGA Tour in putting. He’s primed for a nice debut at the Masters.
9. Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Shane Lowry, 1:19 p.m./10:12 a.m.
Westwood is a course for this horse, which makes up for Garcia’s and Lowry’s lack of successes at Augusta National. Westwood tied for second last year and will make his 18th Masters start. Garcia has just three top 10s in 18 Masters starts and Lowry has gone MC, T-39 in his two Masters trips. The personalities seem to blend well in this group.
8. Phil Mickelson, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Si Woo Kim, 10:45 a.m./1:52 p.m.
Mickelson at Augusta is enough for any group he’s in to make the top 10. Lefty has three wins and eight other top 5s at the Masters, and he’s playing some solid golf right now, too. Watching Mickelson here is a must for any fan. Cabrera-Bello missed the cut last week in Houston, but was T-17 in his Masters debut. Si Woo Kim has struggled this season, racking up MCs and WDs, but he’s an exciting young player.
7. Danny Willett, Matt Kuchar, a-Curtis Luck, 12:24 p.m./9:06 a.m.
Yes, Willett and Kuchar are struggling with their games, but Willett is the defending champion and Kuchar has had some nice years here and ranked 11th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings only taking into account the last 10 Masters. Luck is a future star and this will be his last amateur start. Kid can play, mate.
6. Marc Leishman, Bill Haas, Justin Thomas, 1:52 p.m./10:45 a.m.
Perhaps the most underrated pairing. Leishman just won at Bay Hill last month and is putting it great. Plus, he nearly won the 2013 Masters before tying for fourth. Haas is in great form and is still searching for his first major title. Thomas is smaller in stature compared to the rest of the Tour’s big-hitters, but he can bomb it with the best of them. Earlier this season he shot 59 and won three times, though his current form isn’t near what it was during his early-season play.
5. Russell Knox, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, 10:12 a.m./1:19 p.m.
Knox is one of the most likable guys on Tour and there’s no question Fowler and Matsuyama are two of the most popular players in the world among fans. Fowler has yet to win a major, but he won the Honda Classic this year and is playing some of the best golf of his career. Matsuyama was on fire at the end of 2016, but isn’t thrilled with his current form. Still, his ballstriking is a sight to see. Plus, we all still remember Fowler’s and Matsuyama’s battle at the 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open (Hideki won that one).
4. Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer, Matthew Fitzpatrick, 10:34 a.m./1:41 p.m.
This is where it starts getting tough to rank these groups. Spieth has gone T-2, win, T-2 in his three Masters starts and is super comfortable out on Augusta National. Kaymer has never really quite figured this place out, missing five cuts in nine starts, though he is playing nicely right now. Fitzpatrick was T-5 in his Masters debut last year and his short game is impressive to watch.
3. Rory McIlroy, Hideto Tanihara, Jon Rahm, 1:41 p.m./10:34 a.m.
Tanihara’s success at Match Play, where he beat Jordan Spieth in group play and made it to the semifinals, bumps this group up a little. McIlroy is still chasing that elusive green jacket, which will give him the career Grand Slam. Rahm has yet to win a major but most agree that he won’t go without one for long. His game is far beyond his years and to see him and Rory hit it around Augusta will be well worth the price of admission.
2. Brandt Snedeker, Justin Rose, Jason Day, 10:56 a.m./2:03 p.m.
All three players have a good chance of winning this year. Everyone knows what Sneds can do with the putter. In 11 Masters starts, Rose hasn’t missed a cut and has finished in the top 25 in each of the last seven years, including T-2 in 2015 and T-10 in 2016. And Day, who is feeling upbeat after his mother’s successful surgery to remove cancer from her lung, has contended here a bunch with a pair of top-3 finishes. It will also be interesting to see the fast-playing Sneds, who has been vocal about how he feels about slow play, and Day, who is admittedly more deliberate, in the same group.
1. Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, 2:03 p.m./10:56 a.m.
Watson owns two green jackets and even though he hasn’t been on form for much of the past year, there’s something about Augusta that brings out the best in Bubba. Johnson is no doubt the best player in the world right now, and his No. 1 ranking proves it. Seeing DJ drive a golf ball is one of the best sights on Tour. Walker has the game to win a green jacket – he’s long off the tee and putts it well. All three players were part of the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team (Watson was a vice captain).