The first round from Augusta National gets underway and viewers will be able to watch more live golf than ever.

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The 2016 Masters begins on Thursday and while coverage from Augusta National still isn"t as widespread as many viewers probably wish, it is significantly increased this year, especially online. Television coverage still won"t begin until 3 p.m. ET, as is Masters tradition, but online streams will start earlier than ever.

No longer will the morning waves during the first two rounds be completely out of sight. The main expansion comes in the featured group streams. In previous years, featured group streams started at 12 p.m., well after many of the top players were already into, or even finishing, their rounds. Starting this year, the featured groups will cover more players and start when the players step to the first tee. That means close to an extra three hours of online coverage for viewers. It also means a massive reduction in the blackout times when top players would post great scores yet viewers were unable to watch any of the shots live.

It won"t take long for the new, extended stream coverage to become a benefit. Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth are among the biggest names in the field and both will be on the course before 10 a.m. and a major part of the early featured group coverage. Fowler will play with Zach Johnson and Cheng Jin on Thursday in the first featured group of the morning, they are scheduled to tee off at 9:26 a.m. Spieth will begin his Masters championship defense at 9:48 a.m., playing with Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau.

The extended featured group stream will be a major boost for viewers, but it isn"t the only option to watch the first round. There will three other streams in addition to the featured group coverage. One stream will focus only on Amen Corner while another will broadcast from hole Nos. 15 and 16. Those streams start a little later in the day, but will allow viewers to watch the majority of the field make its way through key stretches of the back nine. Those three streams will be available only on while it and ESPN will also offer a simulcast of the television broadcast. That stream isn"t scheduled to start until 3 p.m. ET.

Combined, viewers will be able to watch live golf from roughly 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. That is a healthy 10 hours of coverage. It may not be as much as other majors, but it"s a significant improvement and one that will be welcomed by golf fans.

Here is a look at the players who will play in the first round featured groups as well as a complete look at the online and TV coverage for Thursday.

Thursday Featured Groups
Tee TimePlayers
9:26 a.m.Zach JohnsonRickie FowlerCheng Jin
9:48 a.m.Jordan SpiethPaul CaseyBryson DeChambeau
NoonKeegan BradleyBrandt SnedekerKiradech Aphibarnrat
12:22 p.mCharl SchwartzelDavis Love IIIRafael Cabrera-Bello
1:39 p.m.

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Danny WillettSergio GarciaRyan Moore
2:01 p.m.Martin KaymerBill HaasRory McIlroy
Thursday"s first round coverage (all times Eastern)Television:

3-7:30 p.m.: Live first round coverage - ESPN8-11 p.m.: Replay of first round coverage - ESPN


3-7:30 p.m., 8-11 p.m.: Simulcast of TV coverage on WatchESPN

Available at

9:26 a.m.-completion (~7 p.m.): Featured groups stream10:45 a.m.-6 p.m.: Amen Corner live stream11:45 a.m.-7 p.m.: Nos. 15 and 16 live stream


2 p.m.-completion: Masters Radio -

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