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Mickelson, Kuchar paired Thursday at Humana Challenge

Phil Mickelson at the 2012 BMW Championship
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While the top two players in the world are playing in the Middle East, a strong field has gathered once again in the California desert for the Humana Challenge. In its second year under a 72-hole format, the event will again pair amateurs with pros across three courses.

While you can see a full list of tee times for the whole field here, below are a handful of groups that you may want to keep an eye on during Thursday's opening round (all times local):

8:30 a.m. PT (Nicklaus Private, 10th tee): Harris English, Bud Cauley

Two of the top Tour rookies from 2012 find themselves paired together for the first round. While fellow Georgia Bulldog Russell Henley was running away with the Sony Open, English was busy rallying from the cut line to a T-9 finish, largely thanks to an 8-under 62 on Saturday. Cauley will look to bounce back from a missed cut in Waialae as he looks to secure his first career trip to The Masters later this year.

8:40 a.m. (La Quinta, 1st tee): Brandt Snedeker, Mark Wilson

The defending FedEx Cup champion joins the defending Humana champion. Snedeker will be playing for the first time since a T-3 at Kapalua, while Wilson will look to replicate last year's performance, where he followed a missed cut at the Sony Open with a two-shot win at PGA West.

9:10 a.m. (La Quinta, 1st tee): Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar

Perhaps the biggest draw for fans in this week's field, Mickelson will be making his 2013 season debut in an event that he has twice won before (2002, '04). He will play the first round alongside the reigning Players champion in Kuchar, who began the new year with a pair of top-10 finishes in Hawaii.

9:40 a.m. (Palmer Course, 1st tee): Zach Johnson, Davis Love III

The last American Ryder Cup captain will play with a man who may be in line for the job a few years down the line. Johnson won twice last year, while Love is still adjusting to life outside the fishbowl of the Ryder Cup; both men will look to bounce back from disappointing performances at Waialae, where Johnson missed the cut by a shot and Love failed to make a single birdie in 36 holes.

10:10 a.m. (Palmer Course, 1st tee): Webb Simpson, David Toms

This is not a pairing that is likely to elicit many verbal outbursts or club throws. Few have more experience in this event than Toms, who finished T-6 a year ago and will be making his 14th appearance this week. Simpson, meanwhile, has started his season well with a pair of top-20 finishes in the year's first two events and finished T-13 in 2011, his last appearance in La Quinta.

10:10 a.m. (Nicklaus Private, 10th tee): Russell Henley, Bo Van Pelt

Humana marks the first week of a new career arc for Henley, whose birdie barrage last week in Honolulu helped to re-shape his playing schedule for this year and beyond. He will be paired in the first round with Van Pelt, who will make his 2013 season debut after closing his 2012 campaign with four consecutive top-10 finishes.