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McDowell delighted as he prepares to tee it up with Tiger

Their world has been turned upside down in the two years since Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods last played together at Augusta National.

When they teed it up together on Saturday at the 2009 US Masters, Woods was World No 1 and reigning US Open champion, while McDowell was at No 48 on golf's global ladder.

This time round, McDowell is proud holder of the US Open title, lies two places ahead of Woods at No 5 in the world rankings and, only last December in California, handed Tiger the biggest final-day disappointment of his career at the Chevron World Challenge.

So, the Portrush man has no reason to be fazed about being paired with Woods (and Aussie Robert Allenby) for the opening two rounds of this year's Masters, starting at 3.41 (Irish time) tomorrow.

"I think he beat me by one that day in 2009, but we're different people now, both of us," McDowell explained. "Tiger's gone through some life-changing experiences the last couple of years and so have I.

"It's great," added McDowell, who also outscored Woods by one when they played the first 36 holes together with Phil Mickelson in Doral last month.

"He's probably the greatest golfer that's ever lived and playing with him in the first couple of rounds here will be a great experience."

Rory McIlroy goes into the fray (2.24 Irish time) with good friend and 2010 PGA Tour 'Rookie of the Year' Rickie Fowler, plus Aussie Jason Day. Padraig Harrington plays the first two rounds with Japan teenage prodigy Ryo Ishikawa and Bill Haas, starting at 2.57 (Irish time) tomorrow.

Tiger was unimpressed by Ian Poulter's assertion that he's not playing well enough to finish in the top-five here, commenting: "Well Poulter is always right, isn't he?"

Irish Independent