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Woods grouped with Allenby, Molinari

Written by: Staff

AUGUSTA, Georgia, Apr 5 (Reuters) Holder Tiger Woods has been grouped with Australia's Robert Allenby and 2005 U S amateur champion Edoardo Molinari of Italy for the first two rounds of the U.S. Masters starting tomorrow.

World number one Woods, chasing a fifth green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club, will launch his title defence at 1023 local time (1953 hrs IST).

Molinari, an engineering student from Turin who has yet to turn professional, became Italy's first U.S. amateur champion with a 4&3 win over American Dillon Dougherty at Merion Golf Club last August.

''It's going to be amazing playing with Tiger,'' Molinari told reporters. ''I hear he's really a nice guy to play with. Hopefully it won't be too intimidating.

''I am really looking forward to it. I sure it will be the experience of a lifetime.'' Woods met the Italian for the first time last morning at Augusta National.

Asked at a news conference if he ever seen Molinari play golf, Woods replied: ''I just saw a few holes on television last year in the final and that was about it. He played well.'' Phil Mickelson, the 2004 Masters champion who romped to a 13-stroke victory at the BellSouth Classic on Sunday, has been drawn with South Africa's Ernie Els and Shingo Katayama of Japan for the first two rounds. They start at 1330 (2300 hrs IST) in the penultimate group.

World number two Vijay Singh, who won the 2000 Masters, will tee off with Sweden's Henrik Stenson and American Arron Oberholser at 1012, one group in front of Woods and company.

U S Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand has a 0917 start with double Masters winner Tom Watson and Irish amateur Brian McElhinney.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia, the world number six, has been grouped with Australia's Geoff Ogilvy and American Chris DiMarco, who was beaten by Woods in a playoff for last year's title. They tee off in the fourth-last group at 1308.

Reuters PDS DB0941

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