Rory McIlroy, left, will tee off at the Masters with Angel Cabrera, right, just as he did during the final round last year. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images
Memories for Rory McIlroy of his Sunday capitulation at last year's Masters will begin on the 1st tee rather than the 10th, after he was paired with Angel Cabrera for the opening two rounds of this year's event.
Cabrera was McIlroy's playing companion as the Northern Irishman slumped to a closing score of 80, 12 months ago, which was triggered by a hooked tee shot and triple bogey on the first hole after the turn. The duo will open their attempt at claiming the 2012 Green Jacket at 1.42pm, also in the company of Bubba Watson.
Cabrera, like McIlroy a former US Open winner, also won the Masters back in 2009. The Argentine has finished inside the top 15 at the season's first major on six separate occasions, including a seventh-placed finish a year ago.
The reunion of McIlroy and Cabrera is one of precious few fascinating points of a generally uninspiring Augusta draw. Tiger Woods will begin his efforts to win a fifth Masters at 10.35am alongside Miguel Angel Jiménez and the Korean Bae Sang-moon, who is making his debut at this tournament. The highly-rated Bae won three times on last season's Japanese tour.
The group immediately behind Woods sees Luke Donald partnered with Francesco Molinari and Nick Watney, whilst Lee Westwood starts his quest to win a first major alongside Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk at 12.58pm. Darren Clarke, the reigning Open champion, plays with Fred Couples and Ryo Ishikawa at 1.20pm. Charl Schwartzel, the defending champion, is partnered by Keegan Bradley and the amateur Kelly Kraft.
The final group of the opening day, at 1.53pm, sees former Masters champion Phil Mickelson play alongside the in-form Hunter Mahan and Sweden's Peter Hanson.
The Japanese amateur Hideki Matsuyama – who is making his second successive appearance at Augusta – will hope there is an omen attached to his being drawn with the eight-time major winner Tom Watson. At last year's Open Championship, the young English amateur Tom Lewis was afforded the same illustrious company and proceeded to score a first round 65.
One player absent from the drawsheet is Dustin Johnson. The American player has withdrawn from the event due to a back injury. Given there are no reserves put in place for the Masters, the field thereby drops from 97 to 96 players.
Johnson tweeted: "First I have to apologise to the fans and sponsors. With heartfelt regret, I won't be playing in the Masters due to a tweaked back."
April 05, 2012