Golf - Scott to launch Masters defence with Dufner and Fitzpatrick

Defending champion Adam Scott will launch his title defence at this week's Masters in the company of PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and US amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Reuters
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Australian Scott, who won his maiden major crown last year in a playoff with Argentina's Angel Cabrera at Augusta National, was grouped with American Dufner and Englishman Fitzpatrick for the first two rounds in the draw announced on Tuesday.

Scott and company will tee off at 1041 local time in Thursday's opening round.

Northern Ireland's former world number one Rory McIlroy and Americans Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth will tee off one group after Scott, Dufner and Fitzpatrick.

Three-times Masters champion Phil Mickelson will begin his bid for a sixth major title along with South African Ernie Els and England's Justin Rose, the US Open champion.

Left-hander Mickelson and his playing partners are scheduled to tee off at 1348 on Thursday.

In other groupings, Swedish world number three Henrik Stenson will set off with Australian Jason Day and long-hitting American Dustin Johnson while 2011 winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa has been paired with American Jim Furyk and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen.

In-form Jimmy Walker, who has won three times on the 2013-14 US PGA Tour, will play his first ever round at the Masters in the company of fellow American Rickie Fowler and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.

First off at 0745, following ceremonial tee shots by golfing greats Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, will be American Stewart Cink and South African Tim Clark.

A notable absentee this week is world number one Tiger Woods, a four-times Masters champion who has been sidelined since having back surgery for a pinched nerve.

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