Sunday 19 January 2020

Rory McIlroy in last Masters grouping alongside Martin Kaymer and Bill Haas

Rory McIlroy faces a lengthy wait before he can begin his bid to become the sixth player to complete the career grand slam at Augusta National this week.

McIlroy will be the very last man in the 89-strong field to hit his opening tee shot in the Masters after being drawn in the final group at 2:01pm local time for Thursday's first round.

The four-time major winner, who was fourth last year, will partner Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer and America's Bill Haas in the first two rounds of the year's first major championship.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, who is looking to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo in winning back-to-back titles, gets his campaign under way at 9:48am alongside England's Paul Casey and US Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau.

World number one Jason Day tees off at 1:06pm with Matt Kuchar and Ernie Els, who is the lowest-ranked winner of any of the last 16 major championships. The South African was 40th in the world when he won the Open at Royal Lytham in 2012.

Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer will act as honorary starters at 8:05am, although Palmer will not hit a tee shot on the par-four first due to a shoulder problem.

American Jim Herman, who was the last man into the event by virtue of his victory in the Shell Houston Open, is the first man out in the tournament proper at 8:20am alongside Australia's Steven Bowditch.

England's Andy Sullivan will make his tournament debut with Harris English and Kevin Na at 10:32am, while new father Danny Willett tees off at 1:39pm with Sergio Garcia and Ryan Moore.

Asked about his late tee time on Thursday, McIlroy said: " I think it's the third year in a row I've been off last either Thursday or Friday here. I was sort of expecting it.

"I'm not much of a sleeping‑in sort of person. I'll get up and I'll probably go to the gym and I'll just do everything that I can to get ready for the day.

"I t becomes a long day. On a Thursday morning you're really just wanting to get here and get out and play, so there's probably going to be a little bit of anticipation. But look, I'm in the Masters field and they can put me off at six o'clock in the evening and I'll still get around and play, so I'll be all right."

McIlroy posted a picture on social media last month of a jigsaw he completed in his hotel room during a recent tournament and added: " I'll play the front nine tomorrow (Wednesday) around noon, try to get off the golf course by 3:00 and try to rest up and take it easy.

"I know that's 24 hours until my tee time, but I have many different ways to pass my time. We are working on another jigsaw puzzle and we brought Monopoly to the house that we're renting, so there's a lot of really fun stuff going on!"

PA Media

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