Rory McIlroy starts Masters bid with Li Haotong and Jon Rahm

Rory McIlroy hits out of the bunker on the second hole during a practice round for the Masters
Rory McIlroy hits out of the bunker on the second hole during a practice round for the Masters

Rory McIlroy will be able to keep a keen eye on the progress of Masters rival Tiger Woods following the draw for the opening two rounds at Augusta National.

Woods will tee off at 1104 local time (1604BST) on Thursday alongside China’s Li Haotong and Spain’s Jon Rahm, with McIlroy in the following group with last year’s runner-up Rickie Fowler and Australian Cameron Smith.

McIlroy needs to win the Masters to complete the career grand slam while Woods - who is one of five members of golf’s most elite club - is seeking a first major since the 2008 US Open.

Patrick Reed gets his title defence under way at 1031 local time (1531BST) in the company of Webb Simpson and US Amateur champion Viktor Hovland, but 2015 winner Jordan Spieth will have to wait until the final tee time of 1400 local time (1900BST) to get his campaign under way.

Spieth, who has finished no worse than 11th in his five starts in the Masters, will play alongside England’s Paul Casey and three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, who missed out last year due to a wrist injury.

Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose and Justin Thomas are in the preceding group at 1349 local time (1849BST), with Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Jason Day making up another star-studded group 11 minutes earlier.

After honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit their ceremonial tee shots on Thursday morning, Andrew Landry will get the tournament proper under way at 0830 local time (1330BST) alongside Adam Long and Corey Conners.

Conners came through Monday qualifying for last week’s Valero Texas Open and then won his first PGA Tour title in San Antonio to secure the final place in the 87-man field.