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Tiger Woods grouped with Matt Kuchar and K.J. Choi in opening rounds of Masters [Updated]

April 6, 2010 | 10:09 am

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods has been grouped with Matt Kuchar and K.J. Choi for the first and second rounds of the Masters and will tee off at 10:42 a.m. Pacific time on  Thursday in the first round.

The Masters groupings and tee times were announced Tuesday.

[Updated at 11:11 a.m.: Kuchar, a Georgia Tech alum, has won twice on the PGA Tour. He burst onto the scene at the 1997 U.S. Amateur, winning the championship following three consecutive victories by Woods.

"He'll do great with the crowd," Tour player Hunter Mahan said. "And he's from Georgia, too, so I think he'll have a good time. He's a good guy, a good ol' boy."

ESPN's coverage of the opening round is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., about the time Woods will be making the turn. But the cable network will be allowed to air Woods' tee shot off the first hole.

He will start the second round at 9:35 a.m. Central time on Friday, with the only coverage coming on the Masters' website around Amen Corner and the 15th and 16th hole.]

Woods got the first practice-round slot this morning, teeing off at 8 a.m. Eastern time. He was playing with buddy Mark O'Meara.

[Updated 11:13 a.m.: O'Meara said afterward that Woods "absolutely" can win the Masters.

"You can never bet against him," he said. "Let's face it, the last tournament he played, he won, the Australian Masters. I realize it's been a long time but he hadn't played much before he won the (2008) U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on a bad leg. So it's never out of the question.

"With him it's just a matter of feeling it and trusting it. Confidence is such a big deal in this game, even at Tiger Woods' level. And that takes a little time to develop. But I like what I saw from him out there today. He's ready."]

Despite the crush of fans that will follow his group, Woods doesn't think his playing partners will have it all that rough. He's right. It's usually the group following Woods that has to deal with shifting crowds.

"Of all the tournaments, this is the one where it's not bad," Woods said. "The media is not allowed inside the ropes. It's not like at the U.S. Open and British Open, where you have over a hundred people inside the ropes who are moving around."

Raymond Floyd made a little news Tuesday morning by announcing that he would no longer compete in the Masters -- not this one or ever again.

After 44 appearances, Floyd said he determined that he is "not competitive" playing brawny Augusta National. But he will make his way around for Wednesday's Par 3 Contest.

"I can reach most of those holes off the tee," Floyd joked.

More news will be made Tuesday, thanks to a loaded schedule in the interview room. Those who will entertain questions include defending champion Angel Cabrera, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, David Duval, Padraig Harrington, Stewart Cink, Steve Stricker and Geoff Ogilvy.

Mickelson is on the course now, playing a practice round with Dustin Johnson, Sean O'Hair and Hunter Mahan.

-- Teddy Greenstein
 
Photo: Tiger Woods takes part in a practice round Tuesday at Augusta National. Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images
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