[PHOTO: Getty Images]

Jason Day hopes being paired with Tiger Woods can lift him out of a brief dip in form having cooled down from a hot start to the year.

The former world No.1 rattled off three top-10s on the PGA Tour in January and February, all at elite Signature events. But his three starts coming into Augusta featured two mid-pack finishes and a missed cut at the Houston Open two weeks ago, where his short game let him down.

But Day has been given the ultimate Masters compliment, being grouped with five-time winner Tiger Woods and Max Homa for the opening two rounds. Day is a long-time friend and mentee of Woods and will tee off at 1:24pm on Thursday, 3:24am Friday AEST.

“That’s exciting. I’m happy about that,” Day said on Tuesday at Augusta. “That’s a good pairing. I had no idea. As long as I beat that old man, I’m happy [laughs]. It’s going to be fun knowing I’m playing with Tiger and Max the first two rounds. That’s exciting. Obviously I’m looking forward to the challenge, especially the first two days. It’s going to be tough.”

Day has fought back impressively from a far longer slump before. In October 2022, he sat 175th in the world rankings but is now world No.22 on the back of winning the Byron Nelson last year.

Day, 36, is chasing his second major to add to his 2015 PGA Championship. He completed the “runner-up slam” last year when he tied for second at The Open at Royal Liverpool, locking up second placings at all four majors.

The former world No.1 was tied second on debut in 2011 before a third place behind Scott in 2013. In 2013, Day held a two-shot lead standing on the 16th tee only to fade over the last two holes. He tied for 10th in 2016 and had a share of fifth in 2019. That year, Day shared the 36-hole lead but made a double-bogey on the par-5 15th on day three and then finished two shots behind Woods, who won.

“Augusta doesn’t owe me one; golf doesn’t owe anything to me,” Day said. “Like I owe a lot to golf, and especially this place here, as well, because of just the opportunity that I’ve had. I’ve just got to not think about it, not get too worked up about it. To be honest, just trying to get my ball going straight where I need it to go, so that’s kind of taken most of the pressure off my head.”

Woods, meanwhile, is 48 and playing a single-digit tournament schedule. His only PGA Tour start this year was one round at the Genesis Invitational before he withdrew sick during the second round.

Woods, though, is playing his 26th Masters and was defiant when asked if he can win a sixth green jacket. Jack Nicklaus holds the record for oldest Masters champion when a 46-year-old Golden Bear won the 1986 edition.

“If it all comes together, I think I can get one more,” Woods said after playing nine practice holes on Tuesday with great mates Justin Thomas and 1992 champion Fred Couples. “I haven’t gotten to that point where I don’t think I can [win].”

Meanwhile, 2022 Open champion Cameron Smith will play with reigning US Open champion Wyndham Clark and Viktor Hovland. Smith begins at 10:54am local time, 12:54am Friday AEST.

Min Woo Lee is off with American stars Patrick Cantlay and Rickie Fowler while Victorian amateur Jasper Stubbs make his major debut with 2007 Masters winner and recent US Ryder Cup captain, Zach Johnson, and Canadian Corey Conners.

Masters champion John Rahm will contest the opening rounds with 2022 US Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick and rising star Nick Dunlap while world No.1 Scottie Scheffler will play with No.3 Rory McIlroy, who is attempting to complete a career Grand Slam at Augusta, and Xander Schauffele.


11pm Thursday: Jasper Stubbs (AUS), Zach Johnson (USA), Corey Conners (CAN)

12:06am Friday: Min Woo Lee (AUS), Patrick Cantlay (USA), Rickie Fowler (USA)

12:18am: Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Will Zalatoris (USA), Justin Thomas (USA)

12:30am: Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG), Nick Dunlap (USA)

12:54am: Cameron Smith (AUS), Wyndham Clark (USA), Viktor Hovland (NOR)

1:18am: Cam Davis (AUS), Camilo Villegas (COL), Denny McCarthy (USA)

3:12am: Adam Scott (AUS), Sam Burns (USA), Cameron Young (USA)

3:24am: Jason Day (AUS), Tiger Woods (USA), Max Homa (USA)

3:36am: Brian Harman (USA), Brooks Koepka (USA), Tom Kim (KOR)