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McIlroy Last Out, Day Joins Els and Kuchar at Masters

Augusta (United States) (AFP) – Rory McIlroy can only hope the last shall be first remains a theme at this year’s Masters after Augusta National released pairings for the first two rounds Tuesday that have him as the final player to tee off in Thursday’s opening round.

Four-time major champion McIlroy, who aced the par-3 16th hole in a Monday practice round, can complete a career Grand Slam at age 26 if he captures the green jacket symbolic of Masters supremacy on Sunday.

He tees off just after 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) Thursday alongside Germany’s Martin Kaymer, a two-time major winner, and American Bill Haas in the last group on day one.

Augusta National used the “last shall be first” notion in its pairings as Jim Herman, the 38-year-old American who won last Sunday’s Houston Open to claim the final Masters berth, is the first man in the field of 89 to tee off Thursday.

Herman starts at 8:20 a.m. alongside Australian Steven Bowditch.

Between those extremes are a host of notable trios that will challenge the undulating greens of Augusta National for the first two days before the cut is made in the year’s first major championship.

World number one Jason Day of Australia plays alongside South African Ernie Els, a four-time major champion, and American Matt Kuchar.

Chinese amateur Jin Cheng joins reigning British Open and 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson, who won in cold conditions similar to those expected at Augusta this week, and Rickie Fowler over the first 36 holes.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth plays alongside England’s Paul Casey and US amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau while South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and American Jason Dufner, both major winners, join US standout Patrick Reed.

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who has won the Masters three times, tees off with Aussie Marc Leishman and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

Past Masters winner Adam Scott will be joined by Americans Kevin Kisner and Brooks Koepka while two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson plays alongside England’s Ian Poulter and South African Branden Grace.

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