Time to tee it up: Four intriguing Masters pairings to keep an eye on

A lot of eyes will be on Rory McIlroy at The Masters.  

AUGUSTA, Ga. – There will be plenty of intrigue in both the morning and afternoon sessions at the 78th Masters, while amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick will get an up-close look at the pressures of defending a major title.

Here are some key pairings for the first and second rounds of the Masters:

10:41 a.m. Thursday/1:48 p.m. Friday: Adam Scott, Jason Dufner, Matthew Fitzpatrick

Wow, talk about trial by fire. Scott won the 2013 Masters and could take over as World No. 1 this week. Jason Dufner is as calm as they come and is the defending PGA Championship champ. And while Fitzpatrick is the reigning U.S. Amateur champ, this will be the biggest crowd he has played in front of in his young career.

10:52 a.m./1:59 p.m.: Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy


Talk about young guns, this group features three players under 25 that are all on the radar of oddsmakers this week. Spieth and Reed are making their first appearances at the Masters, while McIlroy is a 2011, back-nine blunder away from owning a green jacket.

1:04 p.m./9:35 a.m.: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson

There is no need to stand any closer than 300 yards from driving holes on this one, as this is a group of absolute bombers. Stenson and Day are looking for the maiden major wins, while Johnson is one of the hottest players on the planet.

1:48 p.m./10:30 a.m.: Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Justin Rose

Mickelson is a fan favorite and the folks at Augusta National saved him for the second-to-last tee time of the opening day. Mickelson said he was "nervous" about his game after the Shell Houston Open last week, but the man simply seems to find a way here in Augusta. Els made a great run at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and Rose is coming off an injury-plagued beginning to his season, but can’t be discounted after his gutty effort to win the U.S. Open, overtaking Mickelson on the final day.