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Masters golf 2022: Rahm, Thomas favored as Tiger Woods returns to play

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Masters golf 2022: Rahm, Thomas favored as Tiger Woods returns to play
Tiger Woods (L) and Justin Thomas putt during a practice round at the 2022 Masters Tournament on Wednesday at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo

April 7 (UPI) -- Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas are the golfing favorites to win the 2022 Masters Tournament, which runs Thursday through Sunday in Augusta, Ga., as Tiger Woods makes his return to a PGA Tour event.

The first group tees up for the first major of the 2022 season at 8:30 a.m. EDT Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club. Forty-eight of the Top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking will navigate the vibrant, azalea-lined course.

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"It's the Masters," Rahm told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. "It's an iconic golf course. Being the only major that plays at the same venue every year makes it very special."

Masters coverage airs throughout the tournament on CBS Sports Network, ESPN, CBS, Masters.com, Paramount+, CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app.

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No. 6 Cameron Smith, No. 7 Dustin Johnson, No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, No. 18 Jordan Spieth, No. 17 Brooks Koepka, No. 9 Rory McIlroy, No. 4 Viktor Hovland, No. 3 Collin Morikawa and No. 5 Patrick Cantlay join Rahm (No. 2) and Thomas (No. 7) as Top-10 favorites in the 91-player field.

Woods (No. 973) is listed outside the Top 20 in the odds to win the Green Jacket. He returns from a 17-month hiatus from competitive golf, the result of serious leg injuries he sustained in a 2021 single-car crash near Los Angeles.

"I've been lucky to have great surgeons, great physical therapists and great physiotherapists who worked on me virtually every day," Woods said Tuesday. "We've worked hard to get to this point, to walk the grounds, test it out and see if I can do this.

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"It's been a tough, tough year, with a lot of stuff I have to deal with I don't wish on anyone, but here we are."

Rahm, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, finished inside the Top 10 in his previous four appearances at the Masters. Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, placed fourth at the 2020 Masters, his best finish at the tournament. He tied for 21st in 2021.

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"I've been there, I've done it and know I can play good here," Rahm said. "Hopefully, I get to the back nine on Sunday and not needing a crazy [score] to get the win."

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The total purse and winner's share will be announced Saturday, but the first place finisher is expected win more than $2 million.

The players who are either inside or tied for the Top 50 scores through the first two rounds will make the cut for the third and fourth rounds on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

A slight chance of rain is forecast Thursday morning, but no additional showers are expected this weekend at Augusta. Winds are expected to be between 20 and 30 mph during Friday's second round.

The wet grass and thick air could slow putts and shorten drives early in the tournament. The strong winds also could make it difficult for golfers to land shots on the 7,510-yard course's narrow fairways. Complex green designs, water hazards, large bunkers and tree clusters provide additional challenges.

Featured groups

This year, Tom Watson will join fellow Hall of Famers Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player for the Honorary Starters segment of the tournament. The trio tees off at 8:15 a.m. EDT Thursday, with the ceremonial event streaming on Masters.com.

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Jose Maria Olazabal and J.J. Spaun tee off in the first group at 8:30 a.m. to launch the competitive field.

Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Paul Casey are one of the first headline groups to tee off in the first round. That trio is scheduled to start play at 10:53 a.m. Woods, Joaquin Niemann and Louis Oosthuizen then tee off at 11:04 a.m. as part of Group 14.

Thomas, defending champion Hideki Matsuyama and amateur James Piot tee off in the next group at 11:15 a.m.

Scheffler, the FedExCup standings leader, Tony Finau and Adam Scott tee off at 11:26 a.m. as part of Group 16.

Dustin Johnson, Morikawa and Billy Horschel tee off at 2 p.m. in Group 28. Rahm, Cantlay and Will Zalatoris tee off 11 minutes later. Spieth, Hovland and Schauffele, a 2020 Summer Games gold medalist, tee off at 2:22 p.m. in Group 30.

The final group, which features Koepka, McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick, tees off at 2:33 p.m. McIlroy, who has titles in three of the PGA Tour's four major tournaments, is looking to complete golf's Grand Slam with a weekend victory.

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How to watch (all times EDT)

Thursday

First round

TV: From 3 to 7:30 p.m. on ESPN

Streaming: Featured hole Nos. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 from 8:45 a.m. to 7 p.m. on ESPN+ and Masters.com; Featured groups from 9:15 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and Masters.com; Round 1 telecast from 3 to 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+

Friday

Second round

TV: From 3 to 7:30 p.m. on ESPN

Streaming: Featured hole Nos. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 from 8:45 a.m. to 7 p.m. on ESPN+ and Masters.com; Featured groups from 9:15 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and Masters.com; Round 1 telecast from 3 to 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+

Saturday

Third round

TV: From 3 to 7 p.m. on CBS

Streaming: Featured hole Nos. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and Masters.com; Featured groups from 10:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. on ESPN+ and Masters.com; Round 1 telecast from 3 to 7 p.m. on Paramount+

Sunday

Final round

TV: From 2 to 7 p.m. on CBS

Streaming: Featured hole Nos. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and Masters.com; Featured groups from 10:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. on ESPN+ and Masters.com; Round 1 telecast from 3 to 7 p.m. on Paramount+; Green Jacket ceremony at 7 p.m. on Masters.com

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Scottie Scheffler wins 2022 Masters Tournament

Scottie Scheffler, winner of the 2022 Masters golf tournament, receives his trophy at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on April 10, 2022. Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo

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