The Masters: Johnson aims to emulate Woods as Augusta action tees off
Honorary starters Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Elder signalled the opening of the 2021 Masters on Thursday.
The 85th Masters got underway on Thursday as Dustin Johnson defends his title at Augusta. Follow the action live
Honorary starters Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Elder signalled the opening of the 2021 tournament, which officially began with twosome Michael Thompson and Hudson Swafford teeing off.
Woods the last man to win consecutive Masters
Reigning champion Johnson, who secured his second major with an imperious victory in Georgia five months ago, was due to tee off at 10:30 EDT alongside two-time runner-up Lee Westwood and US Amateur Championship winner Tyler Strafaci.
The world number one has earned top-10 finishes at each of his past five Masters outings and holds the tournament scoring record after his stunning 20-under 268 last November.
Johnson is aiming to become the first man since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002 to win consecutive green jackets.
Though Woods is absent as he continues his recovery from a recent car accident, Johnson will face stiff competition from the likes of Jordan Spieth.
The 2015 champion ended a 1,351-day wait for a PGA Tour victory at the Texas Open last week and will head out in the final group to tee off at 14:00 EDT, along with US PGA Championship victor Collin Morikawa and Cameron Smith.
McIlroy chasing first ever Masters win
Rory McIlroy has a career Grand Slam in his sights and his bid to become the sixth golfer to achieve the feat begins with new father Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele for company.
The Northern Irishman is still waiting for a maiden green jacket but boasts a strong record in the event, having finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven editions.
Brooks Koepka will play with Bubba Watson and Viktor Hovland, while Bryson DeChambeau joins Adam Scott and Max Homa.
Justin Thomas, Tony Finau and Louis Oosthuizen form another group, with Sergio García starting alongside Webb Simpson and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, while Patrick Reed will measure himself against Paul Casey and Daniel Berger.
Phil Mickelson, the man with the most major titles (five) in the field as Woods is absent, will appear alongside Tommy Fleetwood and Scottie Scheffler.
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