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Champion Adam Scott paired with Jason Dufner at Masters
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1842 GMT (0242 HKT)
Defending champion Adam Scott, left, and PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner were paired together at the Masters.
- Reigning champion Adam Scott paired with Jason Dufner at Masters
- Playing alongside Scott and Dufner is U.S. Amateur champ Matthew Fitzpatrick
- Rory McIlroy plays with Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed in opening two rounds
- Major winners Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Justin Rose are paired together
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(CNN) -- Adam Scott, bidding to become just the second man in more than two decades to win the Masters in back-to-back years, kicks off his title defense in the company of Jason Dufner and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Scott, who downed Angel Cabrera in a second playoff hole in 2013, and Dufner share at least one thing in common: They won their opening majors last year. In Scott's case, it ended years of near misses at golf's biggest events.
The famously laid-back Dufner -- "Dufnering" is a phenomenon -- captured the PGA Championship about four months after Scott became the first Australian to wear the famous green jacket and 19-year-old Fitzpatrick has earned a reputation, too.
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Last August he became the first Englishman to claim the U.S. Amateur Championship in more than 100 years.
They begin round 1 at Augusta at 10:41 a.m. local time Thursday.
Scott, the highest-ranked golfer in the field because of Tiger Woods' absence, has already been on the course this year, playing a round with his father last week.
"No doubt he had a great time," Scott was quoted as saying by the Golf Channel. "And so did I."
Scott, according to British bookmaker William Hill, is the joint favorite with former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who starts alongside Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed 11 minutes after Scott.
Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Justin Rose -- who own a combined 10 majors -- are the second-last trio to get underway, at 1:48 p.m. on Thursday.
Three-time Masters champion Mickelson enters the tournament under an injury cloud, pulling out of the Texas Open with a side injury late last month.
Woods misses out after undergoing back surgery.
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