Tag Archives: cabrera

Adam Scott pays tribute to Greg Norman after US Masters win

Scott pays tribute to Norman after breaking Australia's majors duck with Masters win

By
Phil Casey, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

00:35 GMT, 15 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:30 GMT, 15 April 2013

Adam Scott paid tribute to Australian great Greg Norman after breaking his major duck, and that of his nation at the Masters.

Scott saw off Angel Cabrera at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off at Augusta to win the 77th Masters and lay the ghost of Lytham last year, when he bogeyed the last four holes of the Open to lose by one stroke to Ernie Els.

'I don't know how that happens,' Scott said of today's dramatic finale. 'It seems a long way away from last July when I was trying to win another major.

Scroll down for video

Looking good in Green: Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the US MAsters

Looking good in Green: Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the US Masters

Adam Scott wins the Masters

DM.has('rcpv2301184524001','BC',
'renderConfig' :

'css' : “videoplayer-large”,
'autoplay' : false,
'muted' : false,
'title' : “Adam Scott wins the Masters”,
'videoId' : 1005341,
'adsEnabled' : true,
'playerId' : “1989148206001”,
'playerKey' : “AQ~~,AAAAAFSL1bg~,CmS1EFtcMWELN_eSE9A7gpcGWF5XAVmI”,
'objId' : “rcpv2301184524001”,
'videoPlayer' : “2301184524001”,
'width' : 636,
'height' : 358,
'linkBaseURL' : “http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/golf/article-2309168/Adam-Scott-pays-tribute-Greg-Norman-US-Masters-win.html”

});

'It fell my way today, there was some luck there. It was incredible.'

Scott and Argentinian Cabrera had finished at nine under, two shots ahead of Jason Day with a third Australian, Marc Leishman, tied for third on five under alongside world number one Tiger Woods.

And Scott said: 'Australia's a proud sporting nation and this was one notch on the belt that we'd never got.

Enlarge

Nail biting: Scott beat Argentinian Angel Cabrera in a tense finish

Nail biting: Scott beat Argentinian Angel Cabrera in a tense finish

'It's amazing that it's come down to me today, Marc and Jason Day, it could have been any of us.

'But there was one guy that inspired a nation of golfers and that's Greg Norman. He's been incredible to me and all the young golfers in Australia and part of this definitely belongs to him.'

Scott looked to have avoided the need for a play-off when he drained a superb 25-foot putt on the final hole of his fourth round to card 69.

So close: Cabrera throws his putter after just missing his birdie putt on the second playoff hole

So close: Cabrera throws his putter after just missing his birdie putt on the second playoff hole

Embrace: Second placed Angel Cabrera (right) congratulates Scott on his win

Embrace: Second placed Cabrera congratulates Scott on his win

But Cabrera, in the following group, hit a magnificent approach to little more than three feet and holed out to extend the contest.

'It was a split-second I thought I'd won, you should never count your chickens,' said Scott of his wild celebrations on the 72nd green.

'But that was the putt, we've seen so many guys make it to win and I thought 'it's time for me to step up' and see how much I wanted it.

Passover: Bubba Watson gives Scott his jacket

Passover: Bubba Watson gives Scott his jacket

'To make a couple of putts to win the Masters tournament is just an amazing feeling.'

Cabrera himself went close when his chip at the first play-off hole ran just past the cup and said: 'That's how golf is. I came back and I had that chip on 18, I could have won it.

But Adam's a good winner. I would have been happier if I had won but he's a great player, I get along with him, we've played together in the President's Cup and I'm happy for him.'

Lee Westwood paired with Vijay Singh at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am

Westwood paired with Singh in Pebble Beach… should former world No 1 play

/02_02/bn_golfblog_308x76.jpg” alt=”Golf blog” width=”308″ height=”76″ title=”” />

Harrington came joint seventh in the
individual event and is back now to try to improve on that in a line-up
headed by defending champion and last week’s winner Phil Mickelson.

The left-hander almost broke 60 last
Thursday, but he has fond memories too of the closing 64 last year
because it came as playing partner Tiger Woods was taking 75.

Woods, who won at Torrey Pines a fortnight ago, is not back to attempt revenge.

Harrington plays the opening round at
Spyglass Hill – three courses are used – with Spaniard Rafael Cabrera
Bello, another to make the long journey from Dubai, while Mickelson,
seeking a record-equalling fifth victory in the tournament, is at
Monterey Peninsular with fellow Australian Rod Pampling.

San Francisco Giants beat Detroit Tigers 4-3 to win Baseball"s World Series

Giants complete sweep to beat Tigers and secure second World Series in three years

|

UPDATED:

07:45 GMT, 29 October 2012

The San Francisco Giants secured a second World Series title in three years on Sunday night, defeating the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in 10 innings at Comerica Park to seal a four-game sweep in the best-of-seven series.

Detroit headed into game four looking to become the first team in World Series history to overturn a 3-0 series deficit, San Francisco having dominated the first three games.

The Tigers produced by far their best account of the series in forcing the game to extra innings before the Giants got over the line, Marco Scutaro singling home the tie-breaking run in the 10th inning before Sergio Romo closed out the win.

Big win: The Giants are improbable champions after spending most of October battling against elimination

Big win: The Giants are improbable champions after spending most of October battling against elimination

Winning feeling: San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean carries the World Series Trophy

Winning feeling: San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean carries the World Series Trophy

Miguel Cabrera’s two-run homer in the third inning had handed the Tigers the lead for the first time in the series, the Triple Crown winner’s blast putting his side 2-1 up after San Francisco had gone 1-0 ahead on an RBI triple from Brandon Belt.

But Buster Posey stepped up three innings later with a two-run homer of his own to get the Giants back in front.

Delmon Young responded with a solo shot to make it 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth on the first pitch from Matt Cain, but that was as good as it got for Detroit.

Power players: The Giants clinched their second World Series title in three years

Power players: The Giants clinched their second World Series title in three years

Let the celebrations begin: San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy holds the Commissioner's Trophy

Let the celebrations begin: San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy holds the Commissioner's Trophy

Scutaro, in settling the contest with the go-ahead single with two outs in the 10th, became the first player in 15 years to win the World Series with an extra-innings hit.

He struggled for words soon after the game was all over, telling Fox Sports: ‘I don’t know what to say right now. We just won the World Series! It’s hard to explain. It’s priceless.'

Reflecting on the Giants’ tricky path to glory – they won six elimination games in the post-season – he added: ‘That’s what makes it so special – the way we did it. We were always against the wall. We just came through the first series, the second series… and now we’ve swept the Tigers.’

Victors: The San Francisco Giants celebrate on the mound after sweeping the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series on Sunday

Victors: The San Francisco Giants celebrate on the mound after sweeping the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series on Sunday

Losing control: Detroit Tigers' Austin Jackson loses his bat during the seventh inning

Losing control: Detroit Tigers' Austin Jackson loses his bat during the seventh inning

After winning 8-3 in game one at AT&T Park and then posting consecutive shutouts to take command of the series, Posey admitted game four had been by far the toughest test.

'Tonight was a battle,' he said on Fox Sports. 'Tonight was a fitting way for us to end it.

'Those guys played hard – they didn’t stop. It’s an unbelievable feeling.'

We've done: San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Sergio Romo celebrates after the Giants defeated the Detroit Tigers in Game 4 to win the MLB World Series

We've done: San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Sergio Romo celebrates after the Giants defeated the Detroit Tigers in Game 4 to win the MLB World Series

Tears of joy: Pablo Sandoval celebrates with a teammate

Tears of joy: Pablo Sandoval celebrates with a teammate

Closer Romo played down his role in seeing out the victory, saying: “I feel beyond blessed, for sure. These guys let me tag along for the ride.'

The Giants certainly hit form at the right time, finishing this month with seven straight wins to clinch the seventh World Series in franchise history.

Jim Furyk leads WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by two shots

Furyk maintains two shot lead at WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

|

UPDATED:

23:15 GMT, 3 August 2012

Jim Furyk holds a two-shot lead heading into day three of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.

The American is on 11 under after following up his opening-round 63 with a four-under 66 at the Firestone CC (South Course).

The overnight leader started well with a birdie four at the second and added another at the sixth before he bogeyed the eighth.

However, three birdies in five holes from the ninth then cemented Furyk's position at the top.

Still out front: Jim Furyk is two shots clear

Still out front: Jim Furyk is two shots clear

Spain's Rafael Cabrera Bello was second on nine under after an impressive 65. Two birdies in the opening three holes gave the 28-year-old a flying start, and consecutive birdies at 10 and 11 further strengthened his position. A dropped shot at 14 was cancelled out at 16 before he closed with another birdie.

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen leapt up the field following an impressive five-under 65. The 2010 champion collected four birdies in his final eight holes in a blemish-free second round.

World number one Luke Donald was closing in on clubhouse leader Furyk after a solid start to his second round but his inability to turn pars into birdies meant he could only card a 69, leaving him in joint sixth place on five under.

In a good place: Furyk leads going into day three

In a good place: Furyk leads going into day three

The Englishman parred 13 of his 18 holes, picking up birdies on the second, 12th and 14th but dropping shots on the 10th and 13th.

Donald's compatriot Lee Slattery will be disappointed with his round after a one-over 71 left him seven shots off the leader.

The world number 230, who was second after the first day, dropped a shot at the fourth but seemed to be heading for a solid round after picking up birdies at six, seven and 10. However he ended poorly with three bogeys over the final four holes.

Another of the English contingent, Simon Dyson, looked out of contention at the halfway stage after he too signed for a 71 to leave him three under for the tournament. He dropped shots at seven and 11 and, although he birdied 12 and 13, a bogey at the last spoilt his round.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, the 2011 US Open champion, was tied 12th with Dyson after an encouraging round of 67 saw him surge up the leaderboard.

Paul Lawrie and Graeme McDowell reach the semi-finals of Volvo World Match Play

Lawrie and McDowell boost claim for Ryder Cup berth as they reach semi-finals of Match Play

|

UPDATED:

17:41 GMT, 19 May 2012

Two weeks after a wretched performance in front of Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie is poised for another mighty leap towards adding a second cap to the first he won 13 years ago.

In his 500th European Tour start, the 43-year-old former Open champion meets Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts on Sunday morning for a place in the final of the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain.

In contention: Paul Lawrie has put himself in the fray to be picked for the Ryder Cup team

In contention: Paul Lawrie has put himself in the fray to be picked for the Ryder Cup team

The other semi-final will be between Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Spaniard Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who became the last remaining home hope when Sergio Garcia three-putted the first extra hole against McDowell.

Already on course for a return to cup action, Lawrie has the chance to move to second in the points race following thumping wins over Thomas Bjorn and Retief Goosen at Finca Cortesin.

First he beat Bjorn 5&4 – the Dane’s five bogeys in the first eight holes certainly helped – and then after lunch he did not drop a stroke in crushing two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen 6&5 in the blustery conditions.

Hope: Lawrie (right) stands must beat Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts on Sunday to reach the Volvo World Match Play Championship final

Hope: Lawrie (right) stands must beat Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts on Sunday to reach the Volvo World Match Play Championship final

'You can’t really ask for more than that,' Lawrie said. 'The wind really picked up and under par you are going to be tough to beat.'

On the Ryder Cup situation, Lawrie added: 'I’m not thinking about that, even if I win this week. If things go well then obviously it’s a step closer, but that’s all it is.

'There’s a lot of tournaments to be played.'

One of the big ones is next month’s US Open, but Lawrie has chosen not to make the trip to San Francisco and remains happy with that decision.

Ryder Cup is his main priority and he has a poor record in the US Open.

He said: 'They way I’ve done my schedule is the best for me.'

Close one: Graeme McDowell scraped into the semi-final as he beat Sergio Garcia in a play-off

Close one: Graeme McDowell scraped into the semi-final as he beat Sergio Garcia in a play-off

What Lawrie hopes, of course, is that he does not have to fall back on Olazabal giving him a wild card and as he missed the cut alongside him a fortnight ago in Seville, he said to the Spanish star: 'I guess that’s me knackered for a pick.'

Olazabal’s reaction

Lawrie said: 'He just laughed.'

McDowell breathed a huge sigh of relief, as he moves closer to cup selection, and faces Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

He was comfortable enough against Richard Finch in the morning, but then had to go into extra holes against Garcia when he missed a five-footer for the match on the last.

The Spanish star was favourite when they returned to the same hole, but charged a 15-foot putt for victory four feet past and missed it after McDowell had holed from five.

Ugly win: McDowell said he was lucky to have beaten Garcia

Ugly win: McDowell said he was lucky to have beaten Garcia

'It wasn’t exactly El Clasico and I feel like I dodged a bullet there,' said the 2010 US Open champion.

'I kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was going home, but sometimes you have to win ugly and sometimes to win you need what just happened to me.

'I count myself lucky.'

Volvo World Match Play Championship: Tough draw for Darren Clarke

Tough draw for Clarke as Ulsterman faces Rose and Rock at World Match Play

|

UPDATED:

14:58 GMT, 15 May 2012

Open champion Darren Clarke has been drawn alongside England's Justin Rose and Robert Rock in the group stages of this week's Volvo World Match Play Championship at Finca Cortesin near Marbella this week.

Clarke's slide to 70th in the world meant he was one of the eight 'outsiders' in the 24-man field drawn alongside the top 16 seeded players.

Defending champion Ian Poulter now knows he will have to take on young English compatriot Tom Lewis as well as Australian John Senden.

Tough draw: Open winner Darren Clarke

Tough draw: Open winner Darren Clarke

Lewis led The Open as an amateur last July and then won the Portugal Masters on only his third start as a professional. It was a victory which earned him his place in this week's event.

England's other player taking part is Yorkshireman Richard Finch, whose third-place finish at the China Open last month got him in as top two Branden Grace and Nicolas Colsaerts were already qualified.

Finch, the lowest-ranked player at 218th in the world, will meet top seed Martin Kaymer, the other member of the world's top 10 present.

Draw (seeded positions based on world rankings):

Group 1: (1) Martin Kaymer, (16) Rafael Cabrera Bello, (24) Richard Finch
Group 2: (4) Graeme McDowell, (13) Robert Karlsson, (20) Jbe Kruger
Group 3: (2) Justin Rose, (15) Robert Rock, (19) Darren Clarke
Group 4: (3) Charl Schwartzel, (14) Nicolas Colsaerts, (18) Retief Goosen
Group 5: (5) Sergio Garcia, (12) Alvaro Quiros, (22) Tetsuji Hiratsuka
Group 6: (8) Ian Poulter, (9) John Senden, (23) Tom Lewis
Group 7: (6) Peter Hanson, (11) Paul Lawrie, (21) Camilo Villegas
Group 8: (7) Brandt Snedeker, (10) Thomas Bjorn, (17) Branden Grace

Top two in each group progress to last 16:

Winner Group 1 v Runner-up Group 2, Winner Group 2 v Runner-up Group 1,
Winner Group 3 v Runner-up Group 4, Winner Group 4 v Runner-up Group 3,
Winner Group 5 v Runner-up Group 6, Winner Group 6 v Runner-up Group 5,
Winner Group 7 v Runner-up Group 8, Winner Group 8 v Runner-up Group 7

World of Golf: Such a shame that glory for Matt seems a bit flat

Such a shame that glory for Matt seems a bit flat

|

UPDATED:

22:40 GMT, 14 May 2012

What's gone wrong with the Players Championship A few years ago it compared favourably with the Masters.

Successive wins for Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson brought with them an excitement that had been missing a month earlier during dull wins at Augusta for the likes of Trevor Immelman and Angel Cabrera.

Now the roars have returned every Sunday to the Masters while the Players has thrown up a hat-trick of winners all cut from the same mould.

Same same, but different: Matt Kuchar claimed victory in the Players Championship

Same same, but different: Matt Kuchar claimed victory in the Players Championship

Like Tim Clark and KJ Choi before him, this year’s winner Matt Kuchar is a fairways and greens man who gets the job done through consistency rather than flair.

Alongside Saturday’s pantomime villain Kevin Na, it made for perhaps the flattest weekend’s viewing we’ve seen all year. Why this has come about is a little course tweaking in both instances.

More from Derek Lawrenson…

Derek Lawrenson: Rickie's in tune with Golf Boys
07/05/12

World of Golf: Americans in form, so it won't be an easy Ryder
30/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Former Open champion Curtis finds his salvation with a victory to savour
23/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Euro stars strike it rich as 130m Tour goes global
16/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: The pride and passion of 'Blubber' Watson
09/04/12

Derek Lawrenson's Masters countdown: Jack's doing his bit for Luke and Rory
02/04/12

Derek Lawrenson: Woods is back, but the UK's finest can defy his bid to be Master
26/03/12

World of Golf: Donald is back on top and enjoying the view
19/03/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

At Augusta they’ve made it a touch easier, thus loosening the reins for the adventurous players, allowing them to play their shots in the knowledge there’s an escape route if they just fail to pull them off.

That’s how you get winners like Bubba Watson.

At Sawgrass now, there’s no margin for error. You only have to miss a fairway by a couple of feet to be in trouble.

The greens are invariably protected by a thick lining of rough, thus nullifying the skill and imagination of the short game artists.

Maybe this is fair enough. Why should everything be set up in favour of the great flair players It just seems a shame given the passionate crowds the event attracts and the brilliant trinity of finishing holes.

This year they cut the rough down a little, and let’s hope they cut it down a little more next year.

Nobody wants to see the McIlroys and the Mickelsons having things all their own way. But neither do you want them feeling like they can’t deliver.

Don't miss it

The Big Miss has proved a huge hit with the book-buying public of America. The controversial tome written by Tiger Woods’ former coach

has been flying off the shelves, with more than 228,000 hardback sales.

Big booking: Hank Haney's tome on Tiger Woods has been flying off the shelves

Big booking: Hank Haney's tome on Tiger Woods has been flying off the shelves

‘A money-making exercise,’ raged Woods when it was published in March and he certainly got that right.

Offering an interesting insight into
the mind of the Tiger, there have been seven reprints already, netting
its author an estimated $1million.

Perhaps Haney could get Woods to have another dig before the paperback comes out and make him a further million.

Caddie Waite’s the Westwood pick

As you can imagine, Lee Westwood hasn’t been short of offers since it was confirmed he would be without his regular caddie Billy Foster for the rest of this season owing to the latter suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury.

The man he has chosen is experienced
Australian Mike Waite, who caddied for Kiwi Michael Campbell when he won
the US Open in 2005.

Leen on me: Lee Westwood has had a big decision o make about his caddy

Leen on me: Lee Westwood has had a big decision o make about his caddy

Westwood’s manager Chubby Chandler was sitting in the press centre on Friday when he took the call from Waite. Three days later, Waite was glad he rang, for based on current form, 10 per cent – the usual caddie quota – of what Westwood earns is a better rate of pay than the Prime Minister’s.

What happens to Foster if Westwood and Waite team up to win a major this summer ‘Billy will be back on the bag the moment he is fit again,’ said the loyal Westy.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

‘I actually think we might want to experiment with penalty shots for players who play slowly. But I don’t think it will make any difference.’

Is there anybody in the world who agrees with that comment from US Tour commissioner Tim Finchem No, didn’t think so.

Don’t experiment, Tim, implement it. Tiger Woods wants it, Luke Donald wants it, in fact everyone with half a brain wants it to speed the game up. Golf in threeballs on Thursdays and Fridays is so slow it’s all but unwatchable.

Uncertain future
Troubled waters: Ian Poulter won last year's Volvo World Match Play Championship

Troubled waters: Ian Poulter won last year's Volvo World Match Play Championship

Once a staple of the autumn calendar at Wentworth, the Volvo World Match Play Championship was relaunched last year in Spain, but it already faces an uncertain future following this week’s edition.

The first thing will be to persuade Volvo to carry on supporting it, which won’t be the easiest task given the tournament has failed to attract any of the world’s top eight players.

Assuming the sponsors can be persuaded to stay on board, the next thing will be to find the event another new home, for it won’t be held at this week’s troubled venue Finca Cortesin anymore.

‘I can see it moving around Europe,’ said Guy Kinnings, golfing supremo for IMG, who organise the event.

Let’s hope he sees another date as well. Being sandwiched between marquee events on both sides of the Atlantic just doesn’t work.

Louis Oosthuizen claims Malaysia Open lead

Masters runner-up Oosthuizen claims lead at Malaysia Open

|

UPDATED:

22:57 GMT, 14 April 2012

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen held a one-shot advantage at the
Malaysian Open when play was abandoned for the day due to storms.

The
29-year-old former Open champion, who missed out on a second major at
Augusta last weekend when he lost a play-off to American Bubba Watson,
was 13 under par through 10 holes of his third round when the action was
halted.

In the swing: Louis Oosthuizen in third round action

In the swing: Louis Oosthuizen in third round action

Oosthuizen started the day by advancing to 10 under with
birdies at 14 and 15 for a second-round 68, then picked up further shots
at the fourth and fifth holes of his third round. A bogey at the sixth
set him back temporarily but he responded by picking up further shots on
nine and 10 to be three under for the round when the siren sounded.

Scotland's
Stephen Gallacher was also three under for his third round when the
weather intervened and will start on Sunday in second place, 12 under
through 11.

England's Danny Willett, Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello
and American David Lipsky were tied for third at the early stages of
their back nines, the former having surged up the leaderboard with five
birdies on a flawless front nine.

In contention: Stephen Gallacher playing on Saturday

In contention: Stephen Gallacher playing on Saturday

Oosthuizen said: 'I got off to a pretty slow start to the third round – I
hit three good putts on the first three holes but didn't birdie one of
them.

'I am probably going for a few more shots than usual in the
third round because I am kind of playing it like it might be the last
round.

'You never know with the weather here so you are trying to
get ahead of the guys just in case all of a sudden it becomes a 54-hole
event.

'I actually don't think that will be the case now, but at that
point on the sixth I was still thinking there was a chance that this
could be the last round.'

MASTERS 2012: Tee times at Augusta National

MASTERS 2012: Tee times – McIlroy and Cabrera reunited at Augusta National

|

UPDATED:

17:11 GMT, 3 April 2012

Rory McIlroy finds himself back with Argentina's Angel Cabrera for the first two rounds of The Masters on Thursday and Friday.

It was Cabrera who watched the 22-year-old Northern Irishman take 80 on the final day last year, although he was not the one to take advantage – the 2009 winner came seventh, five behind South African Charl Schwartzel.

Big-hitting left-hander Bubba Watson is the other member of the three-ball this time and they have a long wait before starting their challenges.

Past champion: Angel Cabrera - the 2009 winner - will play with Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson

Past champion: Angel Cabrera – the 2009 winner – will play with Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson

Raring to go: McIlroy has a chance to erase memories of last year

Raring to go: McIlroy has a chance to erase memories of last year

A 1.42pm tee-off time (6.42pm BST) means they are in the penultimate group on the opening day, with three-time winner Phil Mickelson, Sunday's Houston Open champion Hunter Mahan and Swede Peter Hanson bringing up the rear.

Tiger Woods goes out much earlier. His bid for a fifth green jacket starts at 10.35am (3.35pm BST) alongside Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and Korean Bae Sang-moon, while England's world No 1 Luke Donald is immediately behind with Ryder Cup team-mate Francesco Molinari and American Nick Watney.

Star-studded: Luke Donald will be alongside Francesco Molinari and Nick Watney

Star-studded: Luke Donald will be alongside Francesco Molinari and Nick Watney

They will be the last group onto Augusta National in the second round. Lee Westwood, runner-up to Mickelson two years ago and still without a major, plays with 2000 champion Vijay Singh and 2003 US Open champion Jim Furyk at 12.58pm.

Craig Stadler, winner 30 years ago, will hit the first shot of the tournament at 7.50am local time – 10 minutes after Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player have hit ceremonial drives from the first tee as official starters.

They used to be golf's 'Big Three', of course, and it is the first time for Player in the role. First of the Europeans into action is Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal – champion in 1994 and 1999 – just after 8am (1pm BST), with 1999 Open winner Paul Lawrie in the next group on his return to the event after a gap of eight years.

There was bad news for Dustin Johnson as the American was forced to pull out with a back injury.

FULL LIST OF TEE TIMES FOR THE MASTERS WILL APPEAR HERE……

Lee Westwood opens with 68 at Shell Houston Open

Desert Rat Westwood whistling new dune in Shell Houston Open

|

UPDATED:

23:21 GMT, 29 March 2012

The Desert Rat is Lee Westwood's wry
new nickname for himself in honour of the fact he's gone from nowhere to
second in the stats for getting down in two from a greenside bunker.

It is just one more area where he
has improved out of all recognition, and he gave a couple of tasty
examples of his new-found prowess from the sand to close out a tidy 68
in the first round of the Shell Houston Open on Thursday.

Flower power: Westwood made a solid start in the Shell Houston Open

Flower power: Westwood made a solid start in the Shell Houston Open

The first, at his 17th hole, the 8th on the card, saw him judge a 20-yard sand shot to near-perfection.

There was water behind the flag to catch any stroke played thin but, displaying an uncommonly-deft touch, the ball finished 4ft from the hole.

The one that followed at the 9th was even better.

'It's nice standing over a bunker shot and thinking about holing it, but that's how much my confidence has grown playing out of the sand,' he said.

'I was almost disappointed when it finished tap-in distance away.'

Westwood's decision to play just before The Masters was vindicated by the fact he felt a little rusty for most of the round, following a fortnight off.

Early leader: Carl Pettersson hits out of greenside bunker on the 17th

Early leader: Carl Pettersson hits out of greenside bunker on the 17th

'It was good to be able to work through it and post a decent score,' he said.

'Now the idea over the next three rounds is to continue to get sharper for Augusta and hopefully get myself in contention at the weekend.'

Westwood finished three shots off the early lead held by Swede Carl Pettersson and former Masters champion Angel Cabrera.

On top: Cabrera had a share of the lead

On top: Cabrera had a share of the lead

Playing alongside Westwood, Graeme McDowell tarnished a good round with a couple of loose holes but was still happy with a 70.

'It's been a while since I've headed to Augusta with the nice, high ball flight with my irons that you need at the Masters,' said the Northern Irishman, who finished runner-up behind Tiger Woods last week.

Paul Casey had a good round going too at four under after 10, only for his lack of competitive golf following three months out with shoulder trouble to leave a couple of ugly sixes on his card.

He was one under with a hole to play when a storm broke and 1.25in of rain was dumped on the course. Play was abandoned for the day with late starters like Darren Clarke, Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington having played just a handful of holes.