Gary Player out-drives Jack Nicklaus as honorary starters get Masters underway

Gary Player out-drives Jack Nicklaus as honorary starters get Masters underway
Gary Player, left, and Jack Nicklaus chat before hitting honorary first tee shots before the first round at the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 5, 2018, in Augusta, Ga.(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Gary Player was able to reclaim bragging rights after joining Jack Nicklaus in getting the 82nd Masters under way on Thursday.

Player and Nicklaus continued their role as honorary starters by each hitting a tee shot on the opening hole, with 82-year-old Player producing the longest - and most accurate - drive by around five yards from 78-year-old Nicklaus.

Nicklaus, who finished two shots behind winner Tom Watson in the par-three contest on Wednesday, had hit the longest drive last year after receiving some advice from Rory McIlroy.

With the formalities out of the way, American Austin Cook got the tournament proper under way, with compatriots Ted Potter and Wesley Bryan making up the first group.

Former world number one Tiger Woods was due out at 1042 local time (1542 BST) alongside Australian Marc Leishman and European number one Tommy Fleetwood, who had watched the opening ceremony from outside the clubhouse.

Woods is contesting the year's opening major for the first time since 2015 after undergoing spinal fusion surgery in April last year and has finished 12th, second and fifth in his last three starts on the PGA Tour.

Defending champion Sergio Garcia was in the group after Woods in the company of world number two Justin Thomas and US Amateur champion Doc Redman.

But the man Garcia beat in a play-off 12 months ago, Ryder Cup team-mate Justin Rose, was in the last group at 1400 (1900BST) alongside world number one Dustin Johnson and Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello.

McIlroy was due to start his bid to become the sixth player to complete the career grand slam at 1338 (1838BST) alongside 2013 champion Adam Scott and Spain's Jon Rahm.

American Ryan Moore made the ideal start with birdies on the first and second to briefly enjoy a two-shot lead, only to drop a shot on the third and then double-bogey the par-three fourth.

That allowed former champion Vijay Singh to take over at the top of the leaderboard thanks to a birdie at the first, with two-time winner Jose Maria Olazabal among a large group on level par.

England's Harry Ellis, who qualified by winning the Amateur Championship last year, got off to a nightmare start on his Masters debut after driving into the trees on the first and running up a double-bogey six.

- PA

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