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Five opening-round pairings to watch at the Masters

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Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan / Getty Images

The pairings for the first two rounds of the Masters are set. With so many notable groupings, we figured it made sense to highlight five you should keep an eye on. There's a good chance a couple of these guys could be in contention for a Green Jacket come Sunday afternoon. (To see all of the pairings, click here.)

Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and Peter Hanson (Thursday, 1:53 p.m. ET / Friday, 10:46 a.m.) — This grouping certainly gets bumped up the list following Mahan's Shell Houston Open win. He's being tabbed as one of the dark horses to win this week, so it'll be interesting to see how he handles the increased pressure. Mickelson doesn't need an introduction; and the Swede Hanson has the game to be a decent long-shot pick.

Angel Cabrera, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson (Thursday, 1:42 p.m. / Friday, 10:35 a.m.) — Rory McIlroy gets an intriguing pairing for the first two rounds. He'll be paired with not only Bubba Watson, but also Angel Cabrera, who actually played with McIlroy during last year's final round. Hopefully he doesn't bring up the collapse. Cabrera already owns a green jacket and always seems to be in the mix. Bubba Watson has never had a lot of success at the Masters, but the way he hits the ball, he almost always has a shot when he tees it up.

Tiger Woods, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Sang Moon Bae (Thursday, 10:35 a.m. / Friday, 1:42 p.m.) — Woods is the biggest name in the group, but don't forget about "The Mechanic" and one of the rising stars in golf. Jimenez finished T-8 and T-12 in two of the past four years, so he's always a guy to keep an eye on. Sang Moon Bae will be making his first start at the age of 25 as a rookie on the PGA Tour. It may take him a couple years to figure out Augusta National, but the South Korean has all the tools to be a major force in the future.


[Related: Luke Donald among best golfers never to lead a Masters round]

Luke Donald, Francesco Molinari, Nick Watney (Thursday, 10:46 a.m. / Friday, 1:53 p.m.) — Another threesome with some high expectations, any one of these guys could end up winning this week. Donald is certainly the marquee name of the group, especially after his fourth-place finish last year at the Masters. Watney's had some success at the tournament, including a top 10 in 2010. Molinari finished T-30 in 2010.

Kyle Stanley, Jason Day, Bill Haas (Thursday 9:18 a.m. / Friday, 12:36 p.m.) — You can put this in stone: One of these three will have a major championship by the end of the year. It may not come at Augusta, but Stanley, Day and Haas all have bright futures and the games to win a major championship. Day finished second last year at Augusta; Stanley won earlier this year in Phoenix; and Haas, well, the guy made more than $11 million last year in one week by winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. Yep, all three of these guys are going places.

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