We are hours away from Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr. and Wesley Brian hitting the first tee shots of the 2018 Masters. Here are the five best pairings of the first round, why they are awesome and when they begin the day.
Thursday’s Best Groupings
Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood (10:42 a.m.)
Tiger Woods is the biggest story of the 2018 Masters. Every shot he hits will be televised and there will be thousands of people following on foot. However, his playing partners aren’t too shabby themselves. Tommy Fleetwood is the reigning Race to Dubai Champion on the European Tour and Leishman has a knack for playing well in majors. His best finish is a tie for fourth in 2013. The main attraction is Woods, but he is accompanied by some of the game’s best international players.
Sergio Garcia, Justin Thomas, Doc Redman (10:53 a.m.)
The defending champion, the FedEx Cup points leader, and the reigning U.S. Amateur champion are playing together on Tuesday. That’s a great group. Garcia is leading the PGA Tour in scoring average and JT has already won this year. On top of that, Doc Redman had an incredible come from behind win at the U.S. Am after being down two with two holes remaining and winning in a playoff. Two of golf’s biggest names and a kid with a story that will be told over and over again all week. This is definitely one to watch out for.
Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar (1:27 p.m.)
Three of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour, but also three of the best. Mickelson is playing his best golf since his win at the 2013 Open Championship and he’s putting better than he has in a decade. He’s a serious candidate to get his fourth green jacket. Fowler is always dangerous in majors and his ability to make birdies and putt at a high level can put him in contention every week. Kuchar, a fan favorite around Georgia having played college golf at Georgia Tech, has two straight top ten finishes including a tie for eighth at last week’s Shell Houston Open.
Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm (1:38 p.m.)
The firepower of this group is unbelievable. McIlroy and Rahm both have won on the PGA Tour this calendar year. Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge and McIlroy ran away with the Arnold Palmer Invitational. McIlroy is also chasing the career Grand Slam and his fifth major overall. Scott has not been great this season with zero top 10 finishes thus far, but he knows how to win at Augusta and has the prettiest swing in golf. Tiger is the biggest story of the week, but an in-form Rory going for the grand slam is right there with it.
Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Rafa Cabrera Bello (2:00 p.m.)
Justin Rose’s average finish at the Masters the last four years is seventh including two runner-ups. He probably should have won last year. Dustin Johnson has not played in the Masters since becoming world No. 1 and winning his first major at the 2016 U.S. Open. Nobody has heard much from DJ but he has a win at the Tournament of Champions and second-place finishes at Pebble Beach and HSBC Champions. Cabrera Bello is coming off a top 5 at the WGC Mexico Championship.
Every grouping has something to offer at Augusta, but these are five of the best to keep an eye on during Thursday’s first round.