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McIlroy placed in last Masters grouping

Rory McIlroy faces a lengthy wait before he can begin his bid to become the sixth player to complete the career grand slam at Augusta National this week.

McIlroy will be the very last man in the 89-strong field to hit his opening tee shot in the Masters after being drawn in the final group at 2:01pm local time for Thursday's first round.

McIlroy will be the very last man in the 89-strong field to hit his opening tee shot. Credit: PA

The four-time major winner, who was fourth last year, will partner Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer and America's Bill Haas in the first two rounds of the year's first major championship.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, who is looking to join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo in winning back-to-back titles, gets his campaign under way at 9:48am alongside England's Paul Casey and US Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau.

World number one Jason Day tees off at 1:06pm with Matt Kuchar and Ernie Els, who is the lowest-ranked winner of any of the last 16 major championships. The South African was 40th in the world when he won the Open at Royal Lytham in 2012.

Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer will act as honorary starters at 8:05am, although Palmer will not hit a tee shot on the par-four first due to a shoulder problem.

American Jim Herman, who was the last man into the event by virtue of his victory in the Shell Houston Open, is the first man out in the tournament proper at 8:20am alongside Australia's Steven Bowditch.

England's Andy Sullivan will make his tournament debut with Harris English and Kevin Na at 10:32am, while new father Danny Willett tees off at 1:39pm with Sergio Garcia and Ryan Moore.

McIlroy confirms return to action after ankle injury

McIlroy will be back in action at Whistling Straits. Credit: PA

World number one Rory McIlroy has confirmed his intention to defend his US PGA Championship title this weekend at Whistling Straits.

McIlroy has spent the past few days practising on the Wisconsin course, having been sidelined since early July when he suffered a rupture of his left ankle ligaments during a game of football with friends.

However, he has said he is now fit and ready to return.

"If anything, my ankle feels even better when I swing hard," he told the Daily Mail.

The 26-year-old's injury ruled him out of the Scottish Open and the defence of his Open but he has been playing since the Monday that Zach Johnson inherited his Open crown.

"I've played a lot of golf since then, just finding the middle of the clubface again," he said. "And I've been chipping and putting basically since it happened, with my protective boot on...

"I did think about coming back last week at the Bridgestone but Steve (McGregor, his fitness coach) held me back. He thought it important for me to basically play a tournament behind closed doors and after I completed that successfully, it felt the right time to come.

"I'm ready to play and I expect to do well."

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McIlroy could miss Open with ruptured ankle ligaments

World number one Rory McIlroy has revealed that he has ruptured ligaments in his left ankle playing football.

McIlroy announced the news via Twitter, with an accompanying photograph on Instagram showing himself on crutches and wearing a protective boot.

The news comes less than a fortnight after McIlroy was due to defend his Open Championship title, although the Northern Irishman has perhaps optimistically not yet ruled himself out of the event at St Andrews.

McIlory's showdown with double major winner Jordan Spieth was expected to be the highlight of the Open, which takes place at St Andrews on July 16-19.

Recovery from injuries such as the one reported by McIlroy can take weeks or, in the worst cases, months and even require surgery. McIlroy has, as yet, given no details on the anticipated timescale for his recovery.

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Rory McIlroy begins quest for Masters glory

All eyes were on Rory McIlroy as he began his bid to complete the career grand slam on Thursday, but it was Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose who made a flying start to the 79th Masters.

Will McIlroy win this weekend's Masters? Credit: Reuters

McIlroy is looking to join Gene Sarazan, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in winning all four grand slam titles by claiming a first green jacket at Augusta National.

But after a drive of more than 320 yards on the opening hole and an approach to 10 feet, the 25-year-old missed out on a first ever birdie on the first at the 23rd attempt.

The world number one then hooked his drive on the second into the trees and ended up in a narrow creek, but after taking a penalty drop was able to pitch out to the fairway and hit a superb approach to save par.

McIlroy was four shots off the early pace being set by American Charley Hoffman, who had hit the first shot of the tournament at 7:45am - following the traditional opening ceremony - and was four under par with two holes to play.

One Direction star Niall caddies for Rory McIlroy

Horan should stick to singing. Credit: Reuters

One Direction singer Niall Horan acted as Rory McIlroy's caddie ahead of this week's Masters in Augusta.

The pop star proved he should stick to singing after badly hooking a tee shot on the ninth into the water.

"I apologise to golf," Horan joked. "I do perform to a lot of people but we were performing to their parents today! There was a lot of pressure."

McIlroy is favourite to win this week's Masters. Credit: Reuters

McIlroy, who is looking to become the sixth player to complete the career grand slam by winning a first Masters title on Sunday, added: "I wanted to do this because it's a big week for me and just to go into the tournament in a relaxed mood. To spend a couple of hours like this was fun."

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