The release of the pairings for the first day of the Masters is akin to opening a single present on Christmas Eve for golf fans—it's just a taste of what’s to come on one of the best days of the entire calendar.
There are a number of exciting pairings on the first day in Augusta. Here is a look at every one, along with tee times for the world’s best players.
|7:45 a.m.||Stewart Cink||Tim Clark|
|7:56 a.m.||Ian Woosnam||John Huh||Kevin Stadler|
|8:07 a.m.||Ben Crenshaw||YE Yang||Jonas Blixt|
|8:18 a.m.||Mark O'Meara||Steven Bowditch||Jordan Niebrugge|
|8:29 a.m.||John Senden||Boo Weekley||David Lynn|
|8:40 a.m.||Craig Stadler||Scott Stallings||Martin Kaymer|
|8:51 a.m.||Tom Watson||Billy Horschel||Brendon de Jonge|
|9:02 a.m.||Mike Weir||Matt Every||Roberto Castro|
|9:13 a.m.||Angel Cabrera||Gary Woodland||Ian Poulter|
|9:24 a.m.||Fred Couples||Webb Simpson||Chang-woo Lee|
|9:35 a.m.||Graeme McDowell||Rickie Fowler||Jimmy Walker|
|9:57 a.m.||Zach Johnson||KJ Choi||Steve Stricker|
|10:08 a.m.||Miguel Angel Jimenez||Bill Haas||Matteo Manassero|
|10:19 a.m.||Hideki Matsuyama||Brandt Snedeker||Jamie Donaldson|
|10:30 a.m.||Charl Schwartzel||Jim Furyk||Thorbjorn Olesen|
|10:41 a.m.||Adam Scott||Jason Dufner||Matthew Fitzpatrick|
|10:52 a.m.||Jordan Spieth||Patrick Reed||Rory McIlroy|
|11:03 a.m.||Kevin Streelman||DA Points|
|11:14 a.m.||Larry Mize||Branden Grace||Michael McCoy|
|11:25 a.m.||Sandy Lyle||Matt Jones||Ken Duke|
|11:36 a.m.||Jose Maria Olazabal||Lucas Glover||Garrick Porteous|
|11:47 a.m.||Nick Watney||Stephen Gallacher||Darren Clarke|
|12:09 p.m.||Vijay Singh||Thomas Bjorn||Ryan Moore|
|12:20 p.m.||Matt Kuchar||Louis Oosthuizen||Thongchai Jaidee|
|12:31 p.m.||Trevor Immelman||Graham DeLaet||Oliver Goss|
|12:42 p.m.||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano||Derek Ernst||Sang-Moon Bae|
|12:53 p.m.||Bernhard Langer||Francesco Molinari||Chris Kirk|
|1:04 p.m.||Jason Day||Dustin Johnson||Henrik Stenson|
|1:15 p.m.||Bubba Watson||Luke Donald||Sergio Garcia|
|1:26 p.m.||Joost Luiten||Marc Leishman||Hunter Mahan|
|1:37 p.m.||Keegan Bradley||Victor Dubuisson||Peter Hanson|
|1:48 p.m.||Phil Mickelson||Ernie Els||Justin Rose|
|1:59 p.m.||Harris English||Lee Westwood||Russell Henley|
Now that we know what the first day of competition looks like, let’s dig into a few of the most intriguing Thursday pairings.
Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Justin Rose
Phil Mickelson is arguably the biggest fan favorite on the entire PGA Tour, so he is destined to draw a large crowd no matter who is paired with him.
The lefty is a three-time champion at Augusta who also has a number of top 10 and top three finishes under his belt. If Mickelson can fight through lingering injuries to win his fourth green jacket, he would join the legendary Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer in a tie for second with the most Masters titles.
His playing partners, Ernie Els and Justin Rose, are both talented Major winners in their own right, as Els showed with a solid run at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and Rose showed in the U.S. Open when he outlasted Mickelson.
Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson
If you are a fan of long and towering drives out of the tee box, make sure to follow Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson around at Augusta. All three routinely bomb the ball more than 300 yards, which will certainly come in handy with the tricky approach shots at the Masters.
The headliner in this group is Johnson, though.
He is on an absolute tear in the 2014 season with a win and five top-10 finishes. He is second on the PGA Tour in driving distance (310.8 yards), third in greens in regulation (72 percent) and will be playing right in his own backyard, as he told John Boyette of The Washington Times:
For a golfer, there’s no better place. I grew up right down the road, so it’s my favorite place to come every year. I love it, just being here on the grounds is cool. I’m always excited to come here.
Adam Scott, Jason Dufner and Matthew Fitzpatrick
Matthew Fitzpatrick is the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, and he will certainly be tested right away in front of the crowds that Adam Scott and Jason Dufner draw at Augusta.
Dufner is the defending PGA Championship winner and will look to add another major title to his resume.
Will Adam Scott win a repeat green jacket?
Looking ahead, the fact that Dufner is rarely ever fazed by large galleries or pressure means he should be just fine on Thursday playing alongside Scott.
It remains to be seen whether the same can be said about Fitzpatrick. If he gets off to a disappointing start over the first few holes, we could certainly see the first round get away from him simply because the magnitude of the moment is too much.
However, he is incredibly talented and has an opportunity to show the golf world just what his game is made of at Augusta.
As for Scott, the defending Masters champion is trying to join Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo as the only repeat winner at the Masters. He has finished eighth or better in seven of his last 12 majors, so don’t be surprised when he is near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.
At the very least, he will be well fed thanks to his Masters Champions Dinner. Sky Sports Golf shared the menu:
Here's what defending champion Adam Scott chose as his menu for the Champions Dinner last night. You like it? pic.twitter.com/qh6LGex3aY— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) April 9, 2014
Tune in to see if a new champion will get the privilege of enjoying that food next year.