Tiger Woods will be joined in a golfing super-group by Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds of the US PGA Championship.

The trio, who between them have landed 22 titles at the majors, will begin on Thursday at 08:11 local time (13:11GMT) at Southern Hills, the Oklahoma course that is staging the tournament for a fifth time.

Woods, who won the last of his four US PGA titles at Southern Hills in 2007, has played only one tournament this season, making the cut at the Masters in April.

He is continuing to recover from the foot and leg injuries he sustained in a car crash in February of last year, but there were flickers of the old Woods during his performance at Augusta.

Woods said in a news conference on Tuesday: "It's better than the last time I played a tournament, which is good

"We've been working hard. I have days when it is tough and days where we can push through, but we keep working at it."

Woods has 15 majors to his name, McIlroy has four, including two at the US PGA, and Spieth needs a win at this event to complete a career grand slam, having won each of the other three majors once.

McIlroy believes 46-year-old Woods would not have entered this week if he did not believe it possible to contend come Sunday.

"Six weeks is a long enough time to recover from that week [at the Masters] and then build yourself back up again. He certainly hasn't chosen two of the easiest walks in golf to come back to, Augusta and here," McIlroy said.

"But he's stubborn, he's determined. This is what he lives for. He lives for these major championships, and if he believes he can get around 18 holes, he believes he can win."

Keegan Bradley shot a three-under 67 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after 54 holes at the Wells Fargo Championship on Saturday.

The 35-year-old scored the low-round on a rain-interrupted day at TPC Potomac to finish on eight-under after 54 holes.

After splitting two birdies and bogeys on the front nine, Bradley regrouped on the back nine with two birdies on the opening three holes, before claiming another on the par-four 16th hole.

Max Homa is two strokes back on six-under after a one-over 71 for the day, with Anirban Lahiri and James Hahn a further two strokes back on four-under.

Heavy rain in Maryland during the week has wreaked havoc at Avenel Farm, but the windy conditions were just as impactful on Saturday's play, requiring particularly gritty shot selection.

Jason Day began the round with a three-stroke lead but shot a disappointing nine-over on moving day, with his tournament unravelling on the front nine.

Day found the water on consecutive holes after a bogey on the par-three third, posting a triple-bogey and bogey respectively, and then scored a double-bogey on the par-five 10th to eventually finish on 79.

While Bradley had the day's low round, only four players cracked par on Saturday, including Rory McIlroy who recovered from Friday's score of 73 and bogeys on the opening two holes to post two-under for the day.

Bradley will come into Sunday seeking his fifth PGA Tour tournament win, with his last coming at the 2018 BMW Championship, which he won in a playoff over Justin Rose.

Jason Day will head into the weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship as a strong favourite after extending his first-round lead to three strokes in Friday's action.

After posting a 63 in much friendlier Thursday conditions, Day was solid again, birdieing two of his first three holes, and was four under through 13. 

After a bogey on 14 and 17, he ended his day on the right foot with a birdie on 18 for a three-under 67, sitting at 10 under through two rounds.

Day, who has not won a PGA Tour event since 2018, told the media after stepping off the 18th green that he is excited to be back in this position after previously spending 51 weeks as the world number one before a number of injuries.

"I'm looking forward to it – it's nice to be back in the mix, nice to be leading," he said. "It's still two more days left, so I can't get too far ahead of myself.

"I mean, not many times you see this hair (after being forced to play without a hat due to the rain), but hopefully this weather can kind of go away and we can have hats on for the weekend.

"When you have conditions like this, it's really hard to commit to a shot because you're going in there and you're doing it kind of a lot quicker than your normal pre-shot routine.

"You have to force yourself to hit the shot and trust that."

Max Homa has a hold of outright second at seven under after posting a 66 – tied for the second-best round of the day. Also shooting 66 was Luke List, who drove the green on the par-four 14th hole to putt in for eagle, flying up the leaderboard into a tie for third at six under.

One shot further back at five under is a small group highlighted by Keegan Bradley, who had the round of the day with seven birdies and two bogeys for his 65.

A strong international contingent is in a tie for 10th at four under, with English duo Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick, as well as India's Anirban Lahiri and Slovakia's Rory Sabbatini.

Abraham Ancer is part of the group at three under, while some big names are a further shot back, including Tony Finau, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Camilo Villegas.

Rory McIlroy, Corey Conners and Matt Kuchar will live to see the weekend after finishing right on the cut line at even par, while Aaron Rai was not so lucky, going from a bogey-free 65 on Thursday to a birdie-free 76, missing the cut at one over.

Also missing the cut was Charl Schwartzel, Francesco Molinari, Marc Leishman and Webb Simpson.

A chip-in on the 15th hole propelled Jason Day to the outright lead on his way to a seven-under 63 in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship.

After a solid front nine, where he birdied three of his first five holes, it was an action-packed second nine. He birdied 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16, with his sole bogey coming on the 13th.

Only posting three top-10 finishes from 22 events last season – with a best result of tied-seventh – Day is already in search of his third top-10 result this season in his 11th event, seemingly rediscovering some of the form that has seen him spend 51 weeks as the world number one.

Speaking to the media after stepping off the 18th green, Day was careful to not get ahead of himself, but emphasised his focus on creativity as opposed to just technique.

"I'm obviously, I think, a long way away from being that confident in myself in regards to my game," he said.

"But I feel like [with what I've worked on with my swing] I'm a little bit more creative on the golf course, because at some point you have to get out of the technical aspect and go more creative.

"I feel like things are progressing nicely, and I just have to keep my head down and keep going.

"It is actually very encouraging [to be healthy and confident in his body] because typically if I play well, then people ask me how my back is, and that's probably not something you want to always constantly want to be talking about.

"I've done a lot of work, and been very diligent and disciplined in my approach to staying healthy. I get hiccups every now and then, but for the most part – touch wood – I've been really good."

There was a spectacular start to the day for American Joel Dahmen, who was six under through eight holes, including four consecutive birdies starting on the fifth, before cooling off and finishing at six under for outright second.

One shot further back in the group tied for third were England's Aaron Rai and Callum Tarren, who had just one bogey between them.

Rickie Fowler highlighted the next group at four under after coming back from one over through eight holes, with four birdies, one eagle and one bogey in the last 10. 

Fowler sat one stroke ahead of a logjam at three under, which included defending champion Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Max Homa and Matt Kuchar, with England's Matt Fitzpatrick and India's Anirban Lahiri at two under.

Scottie Scheffler had always dreamed about competing in the Masters, so winning the famous tournament at Augusta National left him full of emotion.

On Sunday, Scheffler secured a fourth PGA Tour win from his most recent six starts, with all four of his career wins having come about in a 57-day hot streak.

Scheffler entered the final round with a three-stroke lead over the chasing field, but after playing partner Cameron Smith found the water on the 12th hole, the 25-year-old American found himself leading by five down the final stretch.

After putting jitters meant he carded a double bogey on 18, Scheffler signed for a 71 to finish 10 under overall, three shots clear of runner-up Rory McIlroy.

He looked largely stoic as he navigated the nerves of a final-round lead, but prior to being presented with his green jacket by last year's champion Hideki Matsuyama in the cabin, Scheffler said he was putting on a brave face.

"I may have looked calm on the outside, but as Hideki [Matsuyama] knows, it's a long day, it's a tough day, so I just tried to keep my head down and execute shots," Scheffler said.

"Probably the first time [winning] popped into my mind was Friday in the afternoon after we got done.

"I never really make it this far – I always dream of just being here and competing. I can't put into words what it means that I'll be able to come back here for a lifetime, hopefully, and I can't speak highly enough of this place.

"I can't thank my family enough. My parents and my sisters have made so many sacrifices for me over the years.

"We've all dreamed about just making this tournament – it's emotional just making the field – so to have the honour of winning the golf tournament is so special."

Later on, he added: "I've dreamed of having a chance to play in this tournament – I teared up the first time I got my invitation in the mail. If you're going to choose a golf tournament to win, this would be the tournament I would want to win."

Scheffler has become the first man to win four times in a PGA Tour campaign by the end of the Masters since David Duval went on an early-season charge in 1999, but that end-of-the-century run did not include a green jacket.

Touching on the on-course action, Scheffler reflected on his crucial chip-in on the third hole after Smith started his day with two consecutive birdies while the eventual winner could not hit a green.

"Very excited [to see it go in] – a bit surprised too," Scheffler said. "It was definitely not a shot I expected to see go in.

"I wouldn't say it changed the complexion of the day, but it definitely got things rolling for me and I played some very solid golf after that.

"I was fortunate to put myself in a position where I was in control of the tournament today, so I didn't have to worry about what anybody else was doing out there.

"If I took care of my stuff, and played good solid golf, I felt like I could get the job done. That was the goal going into today, just keep my head down."

Rory McIlroy narrowly missed out on a maiden Masters triumph but said a record-equalling final round at Augusta made him "as happy as I have ever been on a golf course".

The 32-year-old, who was aiming to complete a career grand slam of the majors, entered Sunday at one over yet gave himself hope of a remarkable victory with an eight-under 64.

That tied the lowest final-round score in the competition's history and is the second-lowest 18-hole score McIlroy has managed in a major, behind his 63 at The Open in 2010.

Magnificent McIlroy's blemish-free round consisted of six birdies, including a dramatic bunker shot at 18, and an awe-inspiring eagle on the par-five 13th.

The Northern Irishman ultimately left himself with too much to do, however, as Scottie Scheffler held his nerve to win by three strokes.

But after rolling back the years with an Augusta showing for the ages, runner-up McIlroy could not hide his delight.

"It's what you dream about, you dream about getting yourself into position," he said. "To play as well as I did today and then to finish like this, it's just absolutely incredible.

"This tournament never ceases to amaze. That's as happy as I've ever been on a golf course, right there. I've never heard roars like that on the 18th green, it was really cool."

McIlroy, who has four major victories to his name but none since 2014, told CBS: "I gave it a great go and I can't ask any more of myself.

"I went out there today, shot my best ever score at Augusta. It's going to be my best finish ever, probably not quite good enough, but I'll come back next year and keep trying."

Scottie Scheffler is now the proud owner of a green jacket after winning the Masters with a terrific performance in the last round – even if he wobbled on the 18th green.

Scheffler, 25, finished 10 under overall and shot 71 on Sunday after a double bogey at the last, winning his fourth career PGA Tour title after landing his first just 57 days ago.

A terrific chip-in on the third hole helped him find his footing after a couple of wayward drives early on, but his ability to recover from less-than-ideal situations was on full display on the first nine.

He would birdie the seventh hole on the way to a bogey-free front half, before his first slip-up came with a bogey on the 10th as he missed a makeable par putt. He lost his putting poise on the final green, but had enough shots in hand that it hardly mattered a jot.

The final day shaped up as a two-horse race between Scheffler and Cameron Smith, but any chance Smith had at mounting a comeback went up in smoke as his tee shot on the par-three 12th found the water.

Smith went on to triple-bogey the hole, and fell apart from that point, pulling drives into the trees as his fight turned from a chance to win to a battle to hang on in the top five.

The surge of the day came from Rory McIlroy, who shot one off the course record with an eight-under 64 to finish outright second at seven under.

McIlroy went bogey-free, with birdies on one, three, seven, eight, 10 and 18, and an eagle on 13.

He capped off his round with a remarkable chip-in from the bunker on 18 – only for his playing partner, Colin Morikawa, to do likewise to put the finishing touches on a 67 to earn outright fifth place at four under.

Also finishing inside the top five was Shane Lowry, who finished with a three-under 69 to tie with Smith for third on a five-under aggregate, despite a triple bogey on the par-three fourth.

Rory McIlroy endured a "really tough" day in the Georgia wind after carding another round 73 to sit on two over par after two rounds at the Masters.

The weather really put the "gust" in Augusta on Friday as several players struggled with the conditions, though McIlroy looks to have made the cut, projected to be four over.

The Northern Irishman made three birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey as he found himself unable to make a move on the leaders.

Speaking after his round, McIlroy said of the conditions: "Tough, really tough. It's gusty, it's hard to commit to a number and say 'okay, it's 170, it's really playing 200', and committing to it because the wind's just going up and down.

"It's a tough challenge, being okay with hitting to 30 feet and getting within two shots and making pars, that's been the name of the game today."

The 32-year-old hit a bogey at 10 before double bogeying the 11th to drop to four over par, but was able to birdie two of the last seven to potentially rescue his week.

"That was a soft couple of holes on 10 and 11, giving away three shots," he added. "And then to play the last seven in two under was really nice. I hit the ball very well coming in, felt like I left a couple out there too, I had a few chances, but it's just one of those days that even the 10 footers are difficult because the wind's gusting.

"One of those days that unsettles you a bit and puts some doubt in your mind, and that's where golf can become difficult."

A number of high-profile players are likely to miss the cut, with Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka on six over par after two rounds, Xander Schauffele on seven over, Justin Rose eight over and Bryson DeChambeau 10 over.

Rory McIlroy will hope to build on an encouraging start on day two at The Masters and claimed his first-round one-over 73 was the "worst I could have shot".

The Northern Irishman headed to Augusta National searching to complete the elusive career grand slam for an eighth attempt, and sits six shots behind leader Im Sung-jae after the opening round on Thursday.

Slow starts have often been McIlroy's problems at the majors, but he felt his "negative" approach paid dividends as he opted for a more conservative route around Augusta.

Four-time major winner McIlroy was satisfied with his first outing as he looks for a first major title since the PGA Championship in 2014, and believes his one-over-par round did not do his efforts justice.

"I am encouraged with how I played. I don't really care where I am at on the leaderboard, it doesn't matter," the 32-year-old said.

"I hit the ball well from tee to green in the most part, I am pleased with that [although] I want to work on my putting.

"I think I hit 12 fairways and 14 greens and just didn't really get a lot out of the round. I hit a lot of greens in the middle and made a lot of easy pars.

"I had a putt at 14 to go two-under for the round with a par five to play but I three-putted that and halted any momentum I had. I think that's the worst I could have shot, I felt I played really well.

"The course is in incredible shape for the amount of rain we have had, so I am looking forward to dry conditions over the next three days."

McIlroy, who is tied for 31st place after his three bogeys cancelled out two birdies, is set to get back in action at 15:45 BST on Friday with playing partners Brooks Koepka and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

While he had no difficulty in parring the first hole on the opening day, McIlroy believes the nerves of that initial tee shot at The Masters never fade away.

"The hour or two leading up to that first tee shot there are nerves and anxiety," he added. "Once you get the first tee shot out of the way it is business as usual.

"I usually envision, 'what's the worst place I could hit it off the tee?' I then think, 'okay, I could probably make four from there'. That is how I settle myself down."

Tiger Woods looked in good health in his return to The Masters, but it is Im Sung-jae who stands alone atop the leaderboard after the first round at Augusta National.

In Woods' first competitive round since The Masters in 2020, the legend finished with three birdies – on the sixth, 13th and 16th – as well as two bogeys, on the eighth and 14th holes.

South Korea's Im produced the round of the day, birdieing the first three holes on his way to five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on 13 to finish at five under.

Smith, who recently won The Players Championship, finished one shot off the lead and outright second at four under, despite bookending his round with double-bogeys on both the first and the 18th, with eight birdies in between.

World number one Scottie Scheffler nearly went bogey-free, but a slip-up on 18 saw him finish two shots off the pace at three under. 

It was a similar story for Dustin Johnson, who birdied four of his first 10 holes before dropping a shot on the 17th to finish tied with Scheffler, as well as Chile's Joaquin Niemann and England's Danny Willett in a tie for third.

Patrick Cantlay and Canadian Corey Conners highlight the small group tied for seventh at two under, while Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and former runner-up Will Zalatoris are one further back, tied with Woods for 10th.

A decorated group finished at even par, including Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia, as well as Victor Hovland, who had five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey.

A pair of big names shot 73 for a one over finish in Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, while plenty of notable stars were a further shot back.

Bookmakers' favourite Jon Rahm was uncharacteristically off his game, with four bogeys and two birdies to finish at two over along with Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott.

Brooks Koepka was two under through nine holes, but three consecutive bogeys on 11, 12 and 13 drained his confidence, eventually finishing three over.

Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Thomas had a day to forget at four over.

Tiger Woods looked in good health in his return to The Masters, but it is Sungjae Im who stands alone atop the leaderboard after the first round at Augusta National.

In Woods' first competitive round since The Masters in 2020, the legend finished with three birdies – on the sixth, 13th and 16th – as well as two bogeys, on the eighth and 14th holes.

South Korea's Im produced the round of the day, birdieing the first three holes on his way to five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on 13 to finish at five under.

Smith, who recently won The Players Championship, finished one shot off the lead and outright second at four under, despite bookending his round with double-bogeys on both the first and the 18th, with eight birdies in between.

World number one Scottie Scheffler nearly went bogey-free, but a slip-up on 18 saw him finish two shots off the pace at three under. 

It was a similar story for Dustin Johnson, who birdied four of his first 10 holes before dropping a shot on the 17th to finish tied with Scheffler, as well as Chile's Joaquin Niemann and England's Danny Willett in a tie for third.

Patrick Cantlay and Canadian Corey Conners highlight the small group tied for seventh at two under, while Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and former runner-up Will Zalatoris are one further back, tied with Woods for 10th.

A decorated group finished at even par, including Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia, as well as Victor Hovland, who had five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey.

A pair of big names shot 73 for a one over finish in Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, while plenty of notable stars were a further shot back.

Bookmakers' favourite Jon Rahm was uncharacteristically off his game, with four bogeys and two birdies to finish at two over along with Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott.

Brooks Koepka was two under through nine holes, but three consecutive bogeys on 11, 12 and 13 drained his confidence, eventually finishing three over.

Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Thomas had a day to forget at four over.

There is nothing in golf quite like The Masters.

Arguably the most prestigious of the majors, Augusta National becomes the centre of the sporting world once more over the weekend, as the famous green jacket goes up for grabs again.

In 1997, Tiger Woods won his first major when he triumphed in Georgia, and 25 years on he is set to make a sensational comeback from injury.

But Woods is not the only name to look out for.

 

The favourites

Let's start from the top. Scottie Scheffler is the world's new number one and he heads into the weekend on the back of three victories in his last five events, having not finished worse than T-19th in his six major appearances since 2020.

Scheffler said he has been resting up at home ahead of travelling to Augusta, where he joked he has already been brought down a peg or two.

He told Sky Sports: "I've been humbled a couple of times already, showing up here. The guy who picked me up in the cart this morning called me Xander, so that brought me down to earth real quick! It's been great, really looking forward to this week."

The Xander in question is Xander Schauffele. He finished T3 last year, three shots back from the champion Hideki Matsuyama, and was looking good on his final round until he sent a ball into the water on the 16th, but he won gold at the Tokyo Olympics and comes into the tournament in strong form.

Reigning champion Matsuyama cast doubt over his participation when he withdrew from the Texas Open with a neck problem, meanwhile, which may hinder his title defence.

 

Brooks Koepka has won four majors, but did not make the cut last year and will be out to put that right this time around, having defeated Jon Rahm in the WGC-Match Play last 16. 

Rahm has finished in the top 10 in each of his last four Masters appearances. However, the Spaniard has not won a tournament since triumphing in the US Open last year, but did secure a place in the top 10 in all four of last year's majors.

Dustin Johnson failed to make the cut in 2021 in a torrid title defence. He had dropped out of the top 10 up until an impressive performance at the WGC-Match Play moved him up to number eight, and he'll be determined to rekindle the form that saw him clinch the green jacket in 2020.

Viktor Hovland is ranked fourth in the world, though his weak chipping game may prove costly to his chances at Augusta, while Collin Morikawa cannot be discounted for a third major title and Justin Thomas will be out to win a second major having won the US PGA Championship in 2017.

 

The outsiders

Augusta is where golfers can shoot to stardom over the course of four spectacular days, and there will be plenty of the field who fancy their chances despite not being among the bookmakers' favourites.

One such player capable of a challenge is Cameron Smith. The Australian is ranked at a career-high six, won the Players' Championship last month and has finished inside the top 10 in three of the last four Masters.

Will Zalatoris, meanwhile, comes into the weekend with the best SG (strokes gained, which compares a player's score to the field average) tee-to-green* statistics on the PGA Tour this season, with his 1.767 average just edging out Thomas, and he came second on his Masters debut in 2021.

Zalatoris only has one pro win to his name so far but the 25-year-old has largely impressed at the majors. He finished T2 in 2021 at Augusta and T8 in last year's PGA Championship, while recording a T6 finish in the 2020 US Open.

Rory McIlroy's Masters record is frustrating. It is the only major the former world number one has not yet won. He finished in the top 10 six times between 2014 and 2020 before missing the cut last year, and now he'll have another stab at sealing a career Grand Slam, though his best finish this season has been third in the Dubai Desert Classic.

 

Only five players have previously completed a clean sweep of the majors, and McIlroy has not won one of the big four events since 2014.

Russell Henley will feature for the first time since 2018 after 12 top 10 finishes in the past year, and he has finished in the top 25 at Augusta three times, while Bryson DeChambeau is going to compete despite missing a chunk of the season with a hip problem. He finished T46 on three-over-par in 2021.

Marc Leishman finished fifth a year ago, improving on T13 from 2020, and Sergio Garcia will at least hope to make the cut for the first time since he won in 2017. Perhaps if the Spaniard can just make the weekend, he can go all the way again?

 

The return of the king

As far as comeback stories go in sport, Woods has already provided one of the very best.

In 2019, against all odds following years of back issues and surgery to fix the problems, Woods won The Masters for a fifth time in his illustrious career, taking his total of major victories to 15. He trails only Jack Nicklaus in that regard.

But this comeback might just top the lot.

The 46-year-old admitted he cheated death in a major single-car crash in February 2021, which left him with serious leg and foot injuries. Woods was unable to walk unaided for several months and has not played serious golf since, but he is all set for a remarkable return on the biggest stage of them all.

It will be his first appearance in any tournament since he played at Augusta in November 2020. Since winning his maiden major a quarter of a century ago, Woods has claimed nine more major titles than any other player, while he is one of only three players to win successive Masters titles (2001 and 2002).

Woods has never failed to make the cut in 21 appearances, and even if he does not challenge at the top of the leaderboard this time around (though you would not put it past him) his comeback is already the story of the weekend.

 

Rory McIlroy described Tiger Woods' return at The Masters as a "wonderful thing" after the 15-time major winner confirmed his planned participation at Augusta.

Woods is set to make a sensational bid for a sixth green jacket this week, playing competitively for the first time since failing to defend his 2019 Masters title in November 2020.

The 46-year-old suffered serious leg and foot injuries in a car crash in February 2021. He was unable to walk unaided for several months.

However, after practicing at Augusta this week, Woods said on Tuesday: "As of right now I feel like I'm going to play."

Asked if he thought he could win the Masters, Woods - who has been grouped with Joaquin Niemann and Louis Oosthuizen - replied: "I do."

McIlroy is looking to complete a career Grand Slam by finally ending his wait for a first Masters title, but he unsurprisingly faced questions on Woods' return.

"Tiger has been wonderful for us all in this room. He creates attention on the game of golf that no one else can," McIlroy replied when asked if he would be surprised if Woods was still in contention on Sunday. 

"That's great for his peers. It's great for the media. It's great for this golf club. It's great for everyone. So, any time Tiger Woods is involved, it's a wonderful thing.

"I think in terms of the competitive nature of it, if he's in the field or not, I don't think it really changes much. You're trying to focus on yourself, and he can't stop you shooting a 67 if you play well. It's not like any other sport. So, I don't think that changes much.

"But would I be -- I wouldn't be surprised. I've spent a little bit of time with him at home, and the golf is there. He's hitting it well. He's chipping well. He's sharp. It's just the physical demand of getting around 72 holes here this week. That's probably the question mark. But the golf game is there. So, would I be surprised? No, I'm not surprised at anything he does anymore."

On whether the hype around Woods makes it easier to fly under the radar, McIlroy replied: "I mean, I try to shield myself from as much news as possible, especially this week. So not really, depending on whether you're the centre of attention or not.

"I think it does make it nice with the practice rounds. We were on the ninth green when Tiger and J.T. [Justin Thomas] and Freddie [Fred Couples] teed off yesterday [Monday], and it was a mass exodus from the ninth green to the first tee, and then the back nine was lovely and quiet.

"That's a nice way to get through the first week and sort of go about your preparation, I guess, unhindered."

Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau were among the big names whose preparation for the 2022 Masters took a blow at the Valero Texas Open on Friday.

In the last week before the first major of the year, McIlroy, DeChambeau, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler all missed the cut.

With the cut line at one under par, McIlroy's second-round 73 left him one over, while DeChambeau was way off the pace at five over following his 76.

DeChambeau has not long returned from injury, finishing bottom of his group at last week's WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, losing two of his three matches and tying the other.

When he started with a triple-bogey on Friday, it became clear the 2020 U.S. Open champion would not be continuing into the weekend in Texas.

Meanwhile, McIlroy had been in encouraging form a month ago, but his performances have gradually declined to the point an Augusta challenge again seems unlikely.

The Masters remains the only major McIlroy is yet to win.

While the big names faltered, world number 547 Kevin Chappell excelled, finishing his second round in a tie for second place, two shots behind leader Ryan Palmer.

Once a contender on the PGA Tour, Chappell's only win came at this event five years ago.

"I just feel at ease around this place," he said after shooting a 65. "My soul and this golf course get along. I really enjoy being here.

"I'm excited about where my game is because I don't think I've played great yet.

"It's not like the ball is coming out of the middle of the clubface every time and flying where I'm looking, but I've been able to scramble and get the ball in the hole."

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