The pairings are set for the first two rounds of the Masters, the first major men's golf tournament of 2006 which begins Thursday in Augusta, Georgia.

World number one Tiger Woods of the United States opens defense of his title playing alongside Italian amateur Edoardo Molinari and Australian Robert Allenby. The group will tee off in the opening round in the late morning local time (1423 UTC).

The 25-year-old Molinari gained entry to the tournament by winning the U.S. Amateur Title in 2005. He was the first European to do so since 1911. Allenby will be playing in his seventh Masters, but has yet to record a top 25 finish. However, late last year he became the first player to win the Australian Open, Australian PGA and Australian Masters titles in consecutive weeks.

The strongest threesome for the opening two rounds appears to be 2004 Masters winner Phil Mickelson, ranked fourth in the world, number five Ernie Els of South Africa and Shingo Katayama of Japan. They tee off Thursday in the next to last group, at 1730 UTC.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.