The first major of the year has arrived with first round of the US Masters at Augusta National kicking off Thursday (10pm AEST) with 18 LIV Golf members on the course.

Led by Australian Cameron Smith, the defectors reunited with their former PGA Tour teammates this week – but the fireworks are yet to fly with golf war tensions simmering.

With the competition finally getting underway, many will be interested to see if the jovial atmosphere lasts, especially if any LIV members start seriously competing for the green jacket.

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Former winners Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson teeed off as honorary starters at the traditional kick-off ceremony for the first major tournament of the year.

Conditions were warm with temperatures expected to reach 87 degrees F, cloudy but dry, although rain is forecast for later in the week and could affect the calendar.

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Canadian Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, was the first player on the field to get going, playing in the starting pairing with American Kevin Na.

Na is one of 18 players on the course of the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf League, which is locked in bitter legal battles with the established PGA Tour.

Members of both parties have downplayed the rivalry all week, including the notorious firebrand. Phil Mickelson was reportedly tight-lipped at the Champions dinner on Tuesday..

But the tension still lingers below the surface.

“There is a great rivalry right now between the Tour and LIV,” Chilean recruit Joaquín Niemann said. “I think there are a lot of players that, I don’t know if they don’t like us or they don’t like the decisions (made by the LIV golfers), but it’s going to be fun.

“I think it’s going to be more fun knowing they hate us, then going to the majors and beating them.”

Cameron Smith leads a five-member Australian contingent.
Cameron Smith leads a five-member Australian contingent.Source: AFP

Smith himself noted the importance of LIV players doing well in an attempt to silence the many skeptics on the breakaway circuit.

“It’s important for the LIV guys to be up there because I think we need to be up there,” Smith said.

“There’s a lot of talk about (how) ‘these guys don’t really play golf; these guys don’t play on real golf courses.’

“We still have a lot of guys who can play really serious golf, and we compete hard week after week and we’re trying to do the same things we did six months ago.”

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However, Smith, Australia’s best hope, has been warned not to accept any talk of the rivalry, and former England pro Nick Dougherty is concerned that he has already bought a lie on social media.

“Why would you want to get into that?” he said she in sky sports.

“And a lot of the stuff, like the one you used in your ‘these guys don’t play on proper golf courses’ quote — tour pros don’t say that, tournaments don’t say that, tours don’t say that. Those are social networks.

“And if we live our lives by what we see on social media, you’re in big trouble.”


Meanwhile, Scottie Scheffler will launch his bid to become the fourth golfer to win back-to-back Masters on Thursday when the 87th edition of the tournament begins.

The American world number one is the bookmaker’s favorite to don the famous green jacket when all four rounds are completed on Sunday night.

Scheffler may not have the charisma and star quality of Tiger Woods, but his consistency over the past 14 months, which has seen him win six PGA Tour titles, makes him the man to beat.

The 26-year-old won the Players Championship in March and set up for the Masters with a hole-in-one during the traditional par-3 contest on Wednesday.

Only Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Woods have posted back-to-back Masters wins and Scheffler is trying not to dwell too much on a rare repeat.

“Everyone starts even even. Just because you’re defending doesn’t mean you can start 1 under par,” she said. “I’ll approach it like I do many other tournaments.”

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– Rory pursues Slam career –

Last year’s runner-up, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, is hoping to finally cap off his Grand Slam career with a long-awaited Masters triumph.

“I don’t need to do anything different this week. I go out there and play the way I know I can, I put myself in there with a chance to win,” said the world number two.

“Then those last two hours on Sunday … it’s about who can keep their composure the best.” McIlroy has been one of the main supporters of the PGA Tour, for whom a nightmare scenario would be to see a LIV rebel celebrating in the green jacket, an idea that is not entirely fanciful.

Rory McIlroy hopes to finally complete his Grand Slam career.Source: Getty Images


Expect large crowds of spectators and dramatic roars of cheering as Woods begins what could be one of his final rounds at the Masters.

The 15-time Major champion and five-time Masters champion will draw big galleries at Augusta National, especially after saying Tuesday he wasn’t sure how much longer he’ll be able to compete after suffering serious leg injuries in a car accident in 2021.

“I don’t know how many more I have in me,” said Woods, admitting that it sometimes crosses his mind that he might not play in many more Masters. “A lot of my life has been here at Augusta National,” he said. . “I’m so excited to be here again and compete.”

World number seven Xander Schauffele knows that the crowds following Woods can make it difficult for his fellow players, especially with them almost wishing for their hero at every painful step at Augusta National.

“It can definitely be distracting with a lot of people moving around,” Schauffele said. “If he taps out before you and you have six foot par, there will be some movement and people will move to get into position to see his next tee shot.”


21:40 (Thursday night) Gary Player (Honorary Initiator), Jack Nicklaus (Honorary Initiator), Tom Watson (Honorary Initiator)

10:00 p.m. Mike Weir, Kevin Na

22:12 Vijay Singh, Scott Stallings, Matthew McClean

22:24 Sandy Lyle, Jason Kokrak, Talor Gooch

22:36 Fred Couples, Russell Henley, Alex Noren

22:48. — Adrian Meronk, Kevin Kisner, Louis Oosthuizen

11:00 p.m. – Larry Mize, Min Woo Lee, Harrison Crowe

23:12 Sergio Garcia, Kazuki Higa, Keith Mitchell

11:24 p.m.: Patrick Reed, Adam Svensson, Sahith Theegala

23:36 Shane Lowry, Mackenzie Hughes, Thomas Pieters

23:48 — Bubba Watson, Seamus Power, Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira

12:06 am (Friday morning) — Abraham Ancer, Chris Kirk, Keegan Bradley

12:18 p.m.: Tiger Woods, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele

12:30 am — adam scottPatrick Cantlay, Kurt Kitayama

12:42 a.m.: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Cameron Young

12:54 a.m.: Hideki Matsuyama, cameron smithSungjae Im

1:06 am – José María Olazábal, Cameron champion

1:18 a.m.: Charl Schwartzel, Taylor Moore, Aldrich Potgieter

1:30 a.m.: JT Poston, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

1:42 a.m.: Bernhard Langer, Mito Pereira, Ben Carr

1:54 a.m.: Danny Willett, Gary Woodland, Brooks Koepka

2:12 a.m.: Sepp Straka, Harold Varner III, KH Lee

2:24 a.m.: Phil Mickelson, Tom Hoge, Si Woo Kim

2:36 a.m.: Billy Horschel, Harris English, Ryan Fox

2:48 a.m. – Zach Johnson, jason dayGordon Sargent

3 a.m.: Brian Harman, Joaquin Niemann, Tyrrell Hatton

3:12 a.m.: Dustin Johnson, Corey Conners, Justin Rose

3:24 a.m.: Matt Fitzpatrick, Collin Morikawa, Will Zalatoris

3:36 a.m.: Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, Sam Bennett

3:48 a.m.: Tom Kim, Rory McIlroy, Sam Burns

4 a.m.: Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau

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