Adam Scott made an almost faultless start to the defence of his Masters crown as his superb 69 left him in a tie for second alongside 2012 winner Bubba Watson and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, all one shot back of American Bill Haas.
Rory McIlroy, widely tipped to add to his two major titles this week, was also content despite a three-putt bogey on the last meant the Northern Irishman had to settle for a solid opening 71, while Watson went bogey-free in his 69.
Phil Mickelson produced a round typical of the five-time major winner as he tripled the seventh, holed a 50-foot, downhill putt with a huge left to right swing on 10, then could only watch on as a routine wedge shot found water surrounding the 15th green. He eventually carded a 76 - his joint worst start in Georgia.
McIlroy said of his opening round: "I feel OK about today, the set-up was difficult for a Thursday - some of the pin positions you'd expect at the weekend.
"You had to be really patient out there. But I feel good and better prepared than I ever have been because experience counts for so much."
Scott was mightily impressive too, though, as he reminded everyone exactly why he won his first Green Jacket 12 months ago with a round of three under that had five birdies and just a single mistake in it - his tee shot on 12 finding water short of the green on his way to a double-bogey five.
A birdie on 14 aided his recovery and four pars to finish reassured people's belief the 2013 champion will be there or there about's on Sunday evening.
He told BBC 5 Live post-round: "It was a beautiful day out there and I played really well.
"I enjoyed every minute and had a great time. There are a couple of big days ahead and it looks like we've got good weather, but I'm going to have to sharpen up a bit on the greens."
However, dissatisfied he was with his work on the green, the Australian will be more than pleased with his days work as he lie just a stroke off the lead heading into Friday, after Haas topped the leaderboard on his own with a fine 68.
Earlier in the day, Jimmy Walker - already a three-time winner this season on the PGA Tour - fired a two-under 70 despite being two over through 13. He salvaged his first-ever Masters round as four consecutive birdies from the 14th catapulted the Baylor University graduate into a tie of third amongst a host of players at minus two.
He was joined by compatriot's Gary Woodland and Kevin Stadler as well as Swede Jonas Blixt, who all impressed on day one.
50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez's front nine was arguably the highlight of the day, however, as his game continued to show no sign of age with a sublime front nine of 32 - birdieing three of his last four to reach the turn at four under.
The cigar-loving Spaniard's charge began to falter around Amen Corner though, as he dropped a shot at the 11th and compounded his error with a double bogey at the next, before parring his way in for a 71.
Jordan Spieth, 30 years younger than Jimenez and making his first appearance at the Georgian course, displayed his incredible potential once more as he also finished at minus one
Augusta's favourite son Fred Couples, making his 27th Masters appearance, again rolled back the years in a round of 71 - mixing three birdies and two bogeys to sit just outside the top 10.
But Englishmen Ian Poulter and Justin Rose both had forgettable Thursday's, as the former struggled to a four-over 76 in the afternoon, a below-par round matched by his fellow countrymen and last year's US Open champ Rose in the days final group.
He'll be joined by two former Green Jacket winners also struggling to make the weekend, as both Zach Johnson and Angel Cabrera slumped to six-over 78's on a day where anything under par was gratefully taken at Augusta.
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