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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Tiger Woods grouped with Abu Dhabi champion Tommy Fleetwood and Marc Leishman at US Masters

Former world No 1 is making his first appearance at Augusta National since 2015 and will be bidding to win the title for a fifth time

Tiger Woods attracted a huge crowd during his practice round ahead of the US Masters. Tannen Maury / EPA
Tiger Woods attracted a huge crowd during his practice round ahead of the US Masters. Tannen Maury / EPA

Tiger Woods has been grouped with England's Tommy Fleetwood and Australian Marc Leishman for the opening two rounds of the US Masters, starting on Thursday.

Augusta National Golf Club will send off the 14-time major winner, a four-time Masters champion who has missed the past two years battling back injuries, and his playing partners off the first tee at 10.42am local time (6.42pm UAE).

Excitement has swirled around Woods this week after strong Masters tuneup efforts, including shares of second at the Valspar Championship and fifth at Bay Hill last month.

Fleetwood defended his crown at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA this year while Leishman last won at the 2017 BMW Championship. Each seeks his first major title.

The Woods trio is scheduled to tee off at 1.27pm local time (9.27pm UAE) in Friday's second round.

Defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain is in the trio just behind the Woods group along with world No 2 Justin Thomas, who won his first major title in last year's US PGA Championship, and US Amateur champion Doc Redman.

A trio of major winners follows the traditional Masters-amateur champions pairing with two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson joined by Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Australian Jason Day.

Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose highlight the four final groups of the opening round.

Three-time Masters winner and five-time major champion Mickelson tees off fourth-from-last at 1.27pm on Thursday alongside fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar.

McIlroy, trying to complete a career Grand Slam by winning his first green jacket, follows at 1.38pm alongside Spain's third-ranked Jon Rahm and Australia's Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters winner.

Spieth, the 2015 Masters winner, goes off at 1.49pm alongside South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, and Sweden's Alex Noren.

And the final Thursday trio includes world No 1 Dustin Johnson, who missed last year's Masters after falling down a staircase on the eve of the first round, plus England's Rose and Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

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