American legend Arnold Palmer got the 73rd Masters tournament at Augusta under way on Thursday by hitting a ceremonial drive up the fairway on the par-four opening hole.
Palmer, who will be 80 this year, then retired to watch the action, with 1991 champion Ian Woosnam and American pair Chez Reavie and Briny Baird the first grouping off the tee. Former Masters winners Sandy Lyle, Craig Stadler, Ray Floyd, Gary Player and Woosnam were all among the early starters and all dropped shots over the early few holes. Tournament favorite Woods is in the penultimate grouping of the day, teeing off at 13:52 pm (1752 GMT) partnered by U.S. Ryder Cup team-mate Stewart Cink and Jeev Milkha Singh of India.
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Patrick Snell blogs from Augusta
World number one Woods is seeking his fifth Masters title and his 15th major, three short of the all-time record of 18, held by Jack Nicklaus. World No. 2 Phil Mickelson, the winner in 2004 and 2006, will begin his attempt to win a third green jacket alongside Camilo Villegas of Colombia and fellow-American Jim Furyk. Meanwhile, Englishman Ross Fisher made a dream start to his Augusta debut by taking the lead after the first six holes of play. The 28-year-old, who has already made his mark in the United States this season with a fourth-place finish in the WGC-Match Play in Arizona, birdied the long second, pitched to eight feet at the 350-yard next and added a two on the short sixth. On three under par, Fisher — winner of the European Open last year — was one ahead of American Nick Watney, runner-up to Mickelson in the WGC-CA Championship in Miami last month.