Tiger starts early Thursday at TPC Sawgrass

May, 10, 2011
05/10/11
1:20
PM ET

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tiger Woods will return to the fairways of the PGA Tour on Thursday at 8:08 a.m. ET in the first round of The Players Championship.

Thursday's round will be Woods' first since injuring his left knee during the third round of the Masters. He finished tied for fourth at Augusta National and currently stands 69th on the money list. In his group are Matt Kuchar and reigning PGA champion Martin Kaymer.

Phil Mickelson -- who played a practice round Tuesday with Dustin Johnson, Steve Marino and Jeff Overton  will begin his quest for a second title at TPC Sawgrass at 1:18 p.m. ET on Thursday with big hitters Martin Laird and Gary Woodland. Lefty and his Thursday playing partners won consecutive tournaments in late March and early April. Woodland captured the Transitions Championship and Laird followed up with a win the week after at Bay Hill before Mickelson won the week before the Masters in Houston.

One of the World Golf Hall of Fame's newest members, Ernie Els, will tee it up in Round 1 at 8:18 with last week's winner, Lucas Glover, and the seventh-ranked player in the world, Paul Casey. Defending champion Tim Clark, who has struggled with injuries all season, will play with 2008 Players Championship winner Sergio Garcia and 2004 winner Adam Scott at 8:29 off the 10th tee. Eighteen-year-old phenom Matteo Manassero will make his Players Championship debut alongside Rickie Fowler and Alvaro Quiros at 2:10 p.m. ET.

Other tee times include:

• 8:08 a.m. ET off the 10th tee: Bubba Watson, Luke Donald and Mark Wilson.

• 1:18 p.m. ET off the 10th tee: Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell.

• 1:28 p.m. ET off No. 1 tee: Brandt Snedeker, Aaron Baddeley and Webb Simpson.

• 2 p.m. ET off No. 1 tee: Jhonattan Vegas, J.B. Holmes and Francesco Molinari.

Kevin Maguire is the senior golf editor at ESPN.com and can be reached at Kevin.Maguire@espn.com.

Kevin Maguire is the senior golf editor for ESPN.com.
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