Best of the 2018 Masters first- and second-round groupings

Apr 3, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; Masters champion Angel Cabrera from Argentina waits on the tee box on the 17th hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National GC. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Best of the 2018 Masters first- and second-round groupings

PGA Tour

Best of the 2018 Masters first- and second-round groupings

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The Masters “groupings” have been revealed and we’ve handpicked the best of 2018’s threesomes commencing Thursday at 8 a.m. ET.

The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies, cooler temperatures with a high of 69 degrees. Winds are forecast to start out of to the northeast and shift to the south, southeast from 5-10 mph.

Sleeper pairing No. 1

Hideki Matsuyama, Patton Kizzire, Paul Casey make up  the 10:09 a.m. time. Matsuyama has been nursing injuries, Kizzire has two wins on the season and Casey enjoys a stellar track record here to go with his recent Valspar Championship win. They will be part of the masters.com morning featured group coverage.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson paired up Tuesday at Auguata, they’ll be separated once play begins on Thursday. (Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports)

Tiger will be joined by Leishman, Fleetwood

At 10:42 a.m. and under the watchful eye of masters.com featured group coverage, goodbye workplace productivity. Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman and Tommy Fleetwood will tee off in the most anticipated grouping. Leishman has the makings of a future Masters champion based on his past here, while Fleetwood has emerged as a top player. But will anyone really notice when they are accompanied by the four-time winner making his first tournament appearance here since 2015?

Defending champion, PGA champion, U.S. Amateur champion

Sergio Garcia, Justin Thomas and Doc Redman will help put a bow on a sensational 2017 season at 10:53 a.m. Garcia returns to now use the Champions Locker Room, Thomas brings his Wannamaker Trophy and the amateur Redman will be in the limelight after winning the U.S. Am at Riviera. Traditionally this might have been a spot for the U.S. Open winner, but Brooks Koepka is out with an injured wrist.

Apr 3, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; Bubba Watson chips at the second green during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National GC. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Bubba Watson will be chipping away for his third green jacket this week at the Masters. (Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports)

Power players in their prime

At 11:04 a.m., Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson and Jason Day will attack Augusta National with booming tee shots. Watson’s very expedient pace of play will be tested by the deliberate Day and Stenson. Watson already has two green jackets, and now is the time for Day and Stenson to make runs that have seemed inevitable given their suitability of their games to Augusta National.

Personality suitable pairing

A bad pairing can throw even the best off their games, but the 1:27 p.m. start for Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar should suit all three. The Ryder and Presidents Cup bonded players have no shortage of familiarity and similar dry wits. If only we could hear their conversations.

Power players in their prime Vol. 2

At 1:38 p.m. Adam Scott and his green jacket will accompany Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm in search of their first victories. A win for Rory would lead to a career grand slam at the age of 28, while Rahm would reverse the course of a year that has flatlined after a strong start in January. Meanwhile Scott remains a perpetual threat here due to his love for the course, the tournament and his ability to hit greens in regulation. These three will be part of the afternoon featured group at masters.com.

Apr 3, 2018; Augusta, GA, USA; Wesley Bryan, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson walk off the 6th tee box during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National GC. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Spieth (center) comes to Augusta in a good place. (Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports)

Sleeper pairing No. 2

At 1:49 p.m. Jordan Spieth, Alex Noren and Louis Oosthuizen quietly begin their Masters quests. The favorite each of the last two years, Spieth arrives with much less fanfare and signs of improvement after solid play in the Houston Open. Noren has been one of the world’s steadier players and has been eyed by many as Sweden’s best hope thanks to his putting ability. Oosthuizen famously contended here on several occasions and always arrives quietly, but one of these years seems destined to join other South African greats to have won the Masters.

Redemption stories

At 2 p.m. Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and Rafa Cabrera Bello set the other afternoon featured group and will be the last to tee off. They will be closely scrutinized on the ESPN broadcast thanks to Dustin Johnson’s return following his 2017 WD and Rose’s return following a heartbreaking playoff loss. Both are pre-tournament favorites while Cabrera Bello is a talented sleeper.

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