In his quest for a second-consecutive Green Jacket, Bubba Watson will be playing in Rounds 1 and 2 with Englishman and Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter and U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox. They will tee off at 10:34 a.m. on Thursday and 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

Directly behind Watson’s threesome will be another marquee group: Tiger Woods, Englishman Luke Donald and Scott Piercy. The resurgent Woods, the world No. 1, is seeking his fifth Masters title and his first victory in a major since 2008. Donald, who has also held the top ranking, is pursuing his first major title. Their threesome will go off at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday and 1:41 p.m. on Friday.

Yet another notable threesome will follow Woods, Donald and Piercy. Australian Jason Day, who narrowly missed winning the 2011 Masters, will be playing with Rickie Fowler and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland. They will start at 10:56 a.m. on Thursday and 1:52 p.m. on Friday.

On Thursday afternoon, Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters winner and still a contender of late into his 50s, will be grouped with long-hitting Dustin Johnson and South African Branden Grace. They will begin at 1:08 p.m. on Thursday and 9:50 a.m. on Friday.

Two more marquee groupings will go off late Thursday.

At 1:30 p.m. Thursday (and 10:23 a.m. Friday), three-time Masters winner Phil Mickelson will play with South African Louis Oosthuizen, last year’s runner-up, and the German former No. 1 Martin Kaymer. In the threesome behind them will be major champions Rory McIlroy and Keegan Bradley, both seeking their first Green Jacket, and Sweden’s Freddie Jacobson. They will tee off at 1:41 p.m. Thursday and 10:34 a.m. Friday.

Another interesting grouping has 14-year-old Chinese standout Tianlang Guan playing with two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and former youngest participant Matteo Manassero. Guan and Crenshaw played a practice round together on Monday. They will tee off at 12:24 p.m. on Thursday.

What remains to be seen is whether, given forecasts of storms later this week, those players teeing off Thursday morning and Friday afternoon or those starting at the reverse times will have an advantage.

By Paul Rogers | Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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