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US Masters: Rory McIlroy out to complete Career Grand Slam after 2011 slip

Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | April 5, 2016

2016 US Masters

  • Thursday, April 7th – Sunday, 10th
  • First day tee-off: 13:20 BST
  • Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, USA
  • Live on Sky Sports 4 (Days 1 and 2) and BBC2 (3 and 4)

Day the one to beat in Masters

Jason Day has been classed as the worthy favourite for the 2016 US Masters after returning to the top of the world rankings, following a dominant run in the last nine months that has included winning the PGA Championship and WGC-Dell Match Play.

The Australian is yet to win the Green Jacket at Augusta, but has finished tied-second (in 2011) and third (2013) here before, and is priced at 6/1 with Coral to become a multiple Major winner this April.

Match Play Golf

However, this edition of the event is likely top be one of the most competitive in recent times, as Jordan Spieth (10/1) will be aiming to defend his title, while Rory McIlroy (8/1) is desperate to complete the Career Grand Slam.

American Spieth even said: “This year’s Masters might be the hardest one to win in quite a while, as far as the depth of the field and the quality of golf being played by people who play Augusta National very well.

“I know you guys know that. You can see these kind of trends. Rory has played Augusta National very well and he’s playing strong golf this year. He wants it very, very badly. We all know that. So everybody wants it badly.”

Mideast Emirates Abu Dhabi Golf

On top of that, the likes of former champions here Adam Scott (12/1), Bubba Watson (11/1), Charl Schwartzel (40/1), Phil Mickelson (20/1) and Zach Johnson (60/1), among other top names, will all be in action on the famous golf course.

Rory raring to go

Northern Irishman McIlroy is aiming to become just the sixth man to win a Career Grand Slam (all four Majors), and first from Europe, after Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen have all achieved the feat.

The current world number three even warmed up for the event with a thrilling hole-in-one on the course during a practise round, and will be looking to cast away the demons after his final round slip in 2011.

“It was a nice practice round and a bit of a highlight, and it ended the match as well,” Mcllroy said. “I played well. I feel like my game is in good shape.”

Masters Golf

On picking out the key hole for the main event, the 26-year-old added: “The 16th is not a pushover especially when the pin is over on the right, but then you have a decent chance when the pin is on the left. The course is not very different at all from what we saw last year.

“I feel like the way the course is now, is probably the way the course played last year because it was soft and a little slow. I’m sure they are trying to get it faster and firmer as the week goes on.”

McIlroy and Spieth to go head-to-head

McIlroy may not have tasted title success since the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last November, but there is no doubt he’ll be raring to go in his bid to pick up a fifth Major.

Match Play Golf

His new nemesis Spieth, 22, has also somewhat dropped in form after claiming his first two Majors last year, though did win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions back in January.

Other great shouts to watch, for potential each-way chances (Coral are paying out for the first six places), include South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (33/1), Justin Rose (22/1), Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson (20/1), who is still searching for his maiden Major.

First-round tee-off times – all BST

USA representatives not in brackets

13:20 Jim Herman, Steven Bowditch (Aus)

13:31 Trevor Immelman (Rsa), Robert Streb, Derek Beard

13:42 Larry Mize, Victor Dubuisson (Fra), Kevin Streelman

13:53 Sandy Lyle (Sco), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Vaughn Taylor

14:04 Webb Simpson, Chris Wood (Eng), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha)

14:15 Tom Watson, Charley Hoffman, Lee Westwood (Eng)

14:26 Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Cheng-de Jin (Chn)

14:37 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Jason Dufner, Patrick Reed

14:48 Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey (Eng), Bryson De Chambeau (a)

14:59 Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Dustin Johnson

15:21 Vijay Singh (Fij), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Chris Kirk

15:32 Harris English, Andrew Sullivan (Eng), Kevin Na

15:43 Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman (Aus), Henrik Stenson (Swe)

15:54 Justin Rose (Eng), Jamie Donaldson (Wal), Daniel Berger

16:05 Adam Scott (Aus), Kevin Kisner, Brooks Koepka

16:16 Mike Weir (Can), Sammy Schmitz, Cameron Smith (Aus)

16:27 Troy Merritt, Ian Woosnam (Wal), Byeong-Hun An (Kor)

16:38 Darren Clarke (Nirl), Billy Horschel, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng)

16:49 David Lingmerth (Swe), Mark O’Meara, Paul Chaplet (Crc)

17:00 Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)

17:22 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Davis Love III, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa)

17:33 Danny Lee (NZ), Russell Knox (Sco), Smylie Kaufman

17:44 Branden Grace (Rsa), Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter (Eng)

17:55 Bernhard Langer (Ger), Hunter Mahan, Romain Langasque (a) (Fra)

18:06 Jason Day (Aus), Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els (Rsa)

18:17 Graeme McDowell (NI), Fabian Gomez (Arg), Scott Piercy

18:28 Jimmy Walker, Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Anirban Lahiri (Ind)

18:39 Daniel Willett (Eng), Sergio Garcia (Spa), Ryan Moore

18:50 Angel Cabrera (Arg), Shane Lowry (Irl), J.B. Holmes

19:01 Martin Kaymer (Ger), Bill Haas, Rory McIlroy (NI)

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