Woods grouped with Lowry for Masters defence, McIlroy with Johnson

By Sports Desk November 10, 2020

Tiger Woods has been grouped with Shane Lowry and Andy Ogletree for the start of his Masters defence.

Fifteen-time major champion Woods will play with Open champion Lowry and, as is tradition at Augusta, the U.S. Amateur Championship winner Ogletree for the first two rounds.

The threesome will start from the 10th hole in the Thursday morning session and from the first tee on Friday in the second session.

Due to the tournament being rescheduled to November amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Masters is using a two-tee start with 11-minute intervals over the first two days to counter the reduced daylight.

Woods, 44, will be defending his title 19 months after his famous 2019 triumph.

U.S. Open champion and pre-tournament Masters favourite Bryson DeChambeau is another early starter as he plays alongside Jon Rahm and Louis Oosthuizen.

World number one Dustin Johnson will have Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay for company in another impressive grouping when they begin from the first tee in the afternoon.

Other later starters include US PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, Adam Scott and Tyrrell Hatton, who has been tipped as a contender.

Two of the other top challengers, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, are joined by Matt Fitzpatrick in another featured group.

The field has been reduced to 92 players after former winner Sergio Garcia, who tested positive for coronavirus, was one of four withdrawals.

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    Nick Taylor climbed into a two-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Sony Open in Hawaii after carding an eight-under 62 on Friday.

    The Canadian kick-started his second round with an eagle at the 18th hole – his ninth – before getting to 12 under at Waialae Country Club.

    Taylor was one under through eight holes in his round before chipping in for the eagle, and he picked up another five shots on the back nine.

    A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, Taylor is two shots clear of Stewart Cink (63), Webb Simpson (65), Russell Henley (64), Vaughn Taylor (66) and Chris Kirk (65).

    Henley is a former champion of the event, lifting the trophy in 2013, while Kirk was runner-up a year later.

    On what is a congested leaderboard, another eight players are just a shot further back.

    Joaquin Niemann (69) and Peter Malnati (69), who shared the overnight lead with Jason Kokrak (71), are among them, alongside Charley Hoffman (65), Collin Morikawa (65), Marc Leishman (65), Hideki Matsuyama (65), Billy Horschel (66) and Brendan Steele (66).

    Steele was runner-up last year and is again well-placed to contend after posting rounds of 65 and 66.

    Horschel, meanwhile, is the only player in the field bogey-free through 36 holes. It is the third time in his PGA Tour career he has been bogey-free through two rounds.

    Defending champion Cameron Smith carded a four-under 66 to sit at seven under – in a tie for 19th in a group that includes Kokrak.

  • Niemann continues good form to share lead at Sony Open in Hawaii Niemann continues good form to share lead at Sony Open in Hawaii

    Joaquin Niemann is part of a three-way tie for the lead after the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

    The Chilean carded an eight-under 62 at the Waialae Country Club on Thursday to lead alongside Peter Malnati and Jason Kokrak.

    Coming off a play-off loss to Harris English at the Tournament of Champions, Niemann's fine start to 2021 continued.

    The 22-year-old made seven birdies, a bogey and an eagle, the latter coming with a chip in at the 18th.

    Kokrak produced a bogey-free opening round, while Malnati mixed nine birdies with one bogey.

    At the 17th, Kokrak almost produced a hole-in-one, only to see his shot lip out as he was forced to settle for a birdie.

    Vaughn Taylor, Jim Herman, Aaron Baddeley, Patton Kizzire, Daniel Berger and Kim Si-woo are two shots adrift of the leaders.

    The champion in 2018, Kizzire made a 45-foot eagle putt from off the green at the ninth, while Baddeley – runner-up in 2003 – is also in contention.

    A group of 13 players are at five under, including last year's runner-up Brendan Steele, 2014 runner-up Chris Kirk and 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.

    Defending champion Cameron Smith opened with a three-under 67 to be in a tie for 40th.

  • Tiger Woods and Masters stars set to see small Augusta crowds Tiger Woods and Masters stars set to see small Augusta crowds

    Golf superstars including Tiger Woods and defending champion Dustin Johnson are set to play in front of "limited" crowds at the Masters, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Last year's tournament was delayed from April to November because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there were no spectators allowed for that edition of the major at Augusta National.

    That is set to change in 2021, says organisers, who are preparing to welcome a small number of Augusta's 'patrons' to watch the action unfold.

    Full attendance was ruled out given the continuing need for social distancing, and those allowed entry must adhere to strict health protocols.

    Augusta National club chairman Fred Ridley said: “Following the successful conduct of the Masters tournament last November with only essential personnel, we are confident in our ability to responsibly invite a limited number of patrons to Augusta National in April.

    "As with the November Masters, we will implement practices and policies that will protect the health and safety of everyone in attendance.

    "Nothing is, or will be, more important than the well-being of all involved. While we are disappointed that we will be unable to accommodate a full complement of patrons this year, we will continue our efforts to ensure that all who purchased tickets from Augusta National will have access in 2022, provided conditions improve."

    The Masters is scheduled to take place at its Georgia home from April 8 to 11, with Johnson looking to follow up the stunning 20-under-par performance that saw him win a first green jacket.

    That was a record score for a champion in the tournament's history and came a year after former world number one Woods landed his 15th major title when he triumphed at the Masters for a fifth time.

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