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One of the most intriguing subplots of this year’s Masters tournament is the rivalry between LIV golfers and PGA Tour players. If you were hoping for some early-round fireworks, I’ve got bad news.
The Masters released tee times and groupings for the first and second rounds, and none of the big names from the two tours are paired together. Looking forward to a Brooks Koepka vs. Scottie Scheffler showdown? No such luck.
How about outspoken LIV critic Rory McIlroy playing with Open Champion and LIV defector Cam Smith? Nope.
Of course, the biggest name on the board is Tiger Woods. He’ll be playing alongside fellow PGA Tour players Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland. As far as Tiger groupings go, that one is pretty vanilla.
Nothing against Schauffele and Hovland, who are both excellent players, but neither brings true star power.
Former Masters champion Sergio Garcia, one of the biggest PGA Tour critics, starts alongside Keith Mitchell and Kazuki Higa. Those are names with which casual fans are likely not familiar.
That’s a fairly common theme among the groupings, released by the Masters Tournament on Tuesday morning.
Masters Tournament appears to have intentionally avoided PGA vs. LIV Tour stars in initial groupings
Patrick Reed, one of the most infamous golfers in the world, is playing with Adam Svensson and Sahith Theegala.
There’s a star-studded group featuring World Golf’s #3 player, John Rahn, #10, Justin Thomas and #14 Cameron Young. But all belong to the PGA Tour.
Cameron Smith is grouped with a pair of PGA players, including 2021 Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama and Sungjae Im, but there’s unlikely to be too much drama in that group.
Bryson DeChambeau is playing with Francesco Molinari and J.T. Poston. Brooke Koepka begins his tournament with 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willet and Gary Woodland. Phil Mickelson is playing with Si Woo Kim and Tom Hoge.
There will be no “Tiger vs. Phil” drama, at least not at the start.
Dustin Johnson, one of the biggest LIV Tour stars, draws last week’s Valero Texas Open winner Corey Conners and Justin Rose.
Scheffler plays alongside Max Homa and amateur Sam Bennett. McIlroy starts with Sam Burns and Tom Kim. The final grouping on Thursday afternoon includes Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Tommy Fleetwood.
Again, a lot of good golfers playing together. That’s going to happen when all of the best players in the world gather for one tournament. But it seems pretty clear that Augusta National attempted to avoid unnecessary controversy.
They want the focus to be on the Masters Tournament and the Masters Tournament only.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @RealDanZak