McIlroy and DJ to form star-studded pairing at Players Championship

Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are also in the field at Sawgrass this week.

Rory McIlroy (left) and Dustin Johnson.
Rory McIlroy (left) and Dustin Johnson.

WORLD NUMBER ONE Dustin Johnson will form part of a star-studded pairing with Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds of the Players Championship, while Sergio Garcia plays for the first time since his Masters triumph.

McIlroy has also not played competitively since Augusta last month, during which time he married long-term girlfriend Erica Stoll, and the Northern Irishman is looking for a first win at the tournament — dubbed golf’s ‘fifth major’.

Johnson was forced to sit out at Augusta after a heavy fall left him with an injured back, but he made his return to the PGA Tour at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship.

The American finished one shot adrift of champion Brian Harman and narrowly missed out on a fourth straight title.

Justin Thomas is the third man joining the world’s best two players at TPC Sawgrass, with the trio teeing off at 6.52pm (Irish time) on Thursday.

Garcia ended his long wait for a maiden major triumph by overcoming Justin Rose in a thrilling final-day tussle at Augusta, and the 2008 Players Championship victor partners two other past champions in Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott.

Jason Day has not won a tournament since his victory here 12 months ago, and he is also in esteemed company alongside Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson, the respective 2015 and 2009 winners.

Another group that will be attracting plenty of interest is world number four Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, world number five Jordan Spieth and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (1.27pm Irish time tee-off on Thursday) will be playing alongside Greg Chalmers of Australia and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo for the opening two days.

Shane Lowry completes the Irish trio in action at Sawgrass this week and the Offaly man gets his tournament under way at 6.08pm Irish time on Thursday alongside 2016 Masters champions Danny Willett and American Bill Haas.

You can see the full schedule for the Players Championship right here.

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John Daly won for the first time since 2004 last night and celebrated in the only way he can

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