Day and Scott chase ranking rise at Pebble Beach

Justin Timberlake Justin Rose

The Northern Irish star has enjoyed a solid start to the year, finishing in a tie for third at the Abu Dhabi Championship last month before a second place at the Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy finds himself all the way down to eighth in the world rankings following a winless 2017 season.

Johnson and defending champion Jordan Spieth will play together in the first three rounds, with Rory McIlroy - who is making his tournament debut - alongside four-time victor Phil Mickelson.

He will then play in the Honda Classic, Valspar Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC Dell Match Play, a notable exception in that run of events being the WGC Mexico Championship, which he's chose to skip.

Last year, a rib injury meant the Ulsterman arrived at Augusta having played just three tournaments in the USA, a situation he made sure won't happen this year. "Could have probably got it back this week if I won, so".

"You know, the first half of the year I played okay but didn't get much out of it", said Scott in December. "But, yeah, I mean, if I don't play well, there's a lot of really good players that are playing really well right now".

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"I don't feel like I've been under-prepared (for The Masters in the past), but there might have been times where say, for example, Augusta would have been my sixth event of the year and maybe in those previous five events I might not have got fully in contention or had a chance to win a golf tournament".

"I feel the best way to prepare for (the Masters) is to be in contention; feeling those nerves down the stretch". "So it's going to be tough for me to keep it, but if I keep playing like I am and how I should, then, yeah, I'll be there at the end of the year".

Jon Rahm has another chance to dethrone Dustin Johnson as the world's No. 1-ranked golfer this week at Pebble Beach.

"Every mindset that I take into every tournament should be like, 'This could be my last tournament, '" Day said. It was the Australian's first title since the 2016 Players Championship.

"I want to be one of the best players to ever have played the game when I decide to call it a day", McIlroy said. "So that's the way that I want to start the year off is that way".

"It's the same thing, you wake up sometimes you're like, 'Yeah, I want to go out and [beat] everyone today.' And some days you wake up and you're like, 'Ugh, it feels like just a normal day'".

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