Masters McIlroy joins newcomer Rahm for early play

Rory McIlroy has been grouped with rising star Jon Rahm for the opening two rounds of the 81st Masters. "It really is a dream come true" tweeted the Barrika (Vizcaya) born golfer.

"It is a hard spot to earn and I couldn't wait to get here", he said last week and he seems to have done plenty of homework in the build-up.

Paired up with Tanihara and Irish man Rory McIlroy, Rahm has endeared the United States media with the frankness of opinion. "Truly, Torrey Pines is not one of the places rookies usually win for the first time and I was able to do it".

No Masters debutant has won the green jacket since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 but Rahm said he would not have troubled himself to come to Augusta if he thought he had no chance.

2015 champion Jordan Spieth will be looking for redemption after his Sunday meltdown past year, and he's part of an exciting group which also contains twice major victor Martin Kaymer and Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, who finished in a tie for seventh in just his second appearance at the tournament 12 months ago.

"I have played a lot here but sometimes you forget all the subtleties", he added and part of his practice session was deliberately hitting his ball miles wide of the par five eighth green and then attempting get it up and down.

That success booked a return to Augusta for the first time since 2009 and although two attempts to date have not yielded better that a T45, a resurgent Perez looks set to take full advantage of this opportunity.

Elsewhere, world No.1 Dustin Johnson has been placed in a final all-American grouping alongside two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson and reigning PGA Championship holder Jimmy Walker. "But hopefully on Sunday he can make a special present". Obviously this is different. It happened at Oakmont before I realized I was seven over.

"I'll be very excited on the first tee".

Sandwiched between the four-time Major champion and the "new Seve" is Japan's Hideto Tanihara, the 48th-ranked player in the world.

I want that, oh my God, I'm playing in the Masters moment, to be as short as possible.

"I've played with a few of the Asian contenders, so I sort of expected one of those guys", McIlroy said. "I don't see any reason why he can't go and play well or be in contention this week and have a chance to win", said Fowler, who in 2011 was five shots out of the 36-hole lead and eventually finished T38 in his Masters debut.

  • Angelo Rivera