In Brief

Masters digest: Tiger Woods feels ‘fantastic’ ahead of Augusta

Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are also confident as we look at the groups to watch in tomorrow’s first round

Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods admits it is “crazy” that he is playing at Augusta this year.

The 42-year-old is making his comeback to golf after a year that saw him undergo surgery on his back. As the BBC reports, he “could barely sit through last year’s annual champions dinner”. The fact Woods is now lining up to compete for a fifth Green Jacket is exciting for the former world No.1. 

With a number of impressive performances in the run-up to the Masters, Woods says his “speed and timing” is back and he feels “fantastic” ahead of his first major since 2015.

He told the BBC: “I thought prior to surgery, I’ll have a nice comfortable life but I’ll never swing a club like I used to. But all of a sudden, my body and speed and timing are back.

“For some reason, I don’t have any pain. Yes I’m much tighter and I have to work on strength in different ways, but I’m hitting speeds I hit in my prime. We have worked on what body parts to get stronger, what body parts need to be more limber, and I feel fantastic.

“It’s just a matter of now going out there and competing and playing and posting numbers. The swing numbers are still up and that part is exciting because if I can maintain this, I can play for a long time.”

The 82nd Masters starts tomorrow and there will be 87 players in the field. Fourteen-time major champion Woods will play in the first round with England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Australia’s Marc Leishman. The trio tee off at 3.42pm UK time tomorrow.

McIlroy: I’ve come here to win

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy could secure a career major Grand Slam this week – and that’s his aim for the Masters at Augusta.

After winning the US Open in 2011, the Open in 2014 and the PGA Championship in 2012 and 2014, McIlroy needs to win the Green Jacket to complete the slam.

He told Sky Sports: “I’ve come here with one goal and that is to win the tournament. And I’m sure everyone here has the same goals and objectives. And I feel like I’m coming in here in great form and excited to have another chance to try and win this great tournament. 

“I couldn’t come in here with better form. It was great to get a win [at Bay Hill] a couple of weeks ago and hopefully I can just carry that golf forward for the next few days.”

McIlroy will play in the first round alongside Australia’s Adam Scott and Spain’s Jon Rahm, starting at 6.38pm.

Spieth in confident mood

US star Jordan Spieth, a Masters winner in 2015, says he is feeling confident ahead of the first major of the season.

The 24-year-old Texan, who also tied for second at the Masters in 2014 and 2016, impressed in last week’s Houston Open, where he finished tied-third.

He said: “I feel better coming into this week than I did in 2016 and 2014, where I came off missed cuts in Houston. There’s a lot to be said of the previous week’s momentum.”

Masters first-round groups to watch

The Masters’ opening round will tee off at 1.30pm tomorrow with the American trio of Ted Potter Jr, Austin Cook and Wesley Bryan. We pick out the groups to watch during the first round at Augusta. Players are US unless stated. For full round one and two tee-off times see our 2018 Masters guide.

  • 3.42pm: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman (Aus), Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 
  • 3.53pm: Sergio Garcia (Spa), Justin Thomas, Doc Redman (amateur) 
  • 6.27pm: Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar 
  • 6.38pm: Adam Scott (Aus), Rory McIlroy (NIrl), Jon Rahm (Spa) 
  • 6.49pm: Jordan Spieth, Alex Noren (Swe), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 
  • 7pm: Justin Rose (Eng), Dustin Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa)
How to watch the Masters on TV

Coverage of the Masters first round is live on Sky Sports starting tomorrow evening at 7pm UK time.

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