Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods dominated the build-up to this week's Masters but it was exciting American Jordan Spieth who produced the fireworks in a gripping opening round at Augusta National.
Spieth, the hottest player in the game over the past six months, raised hopes of shooting the first 62 at a major championship before he ran out of steam over the closing stretch to fire an eight-under-par 64.
-8 Jordan Spieth (US) - 64
-5 Jason Day (Australia) - 67
Charley Hoffman (US) - 67
Justin Rose (Britain) - 67
Ernie Els (South Africa) - 67
-4 Russell Henley (US) - 68
Sergio Garcia (Spain) - 68
The 21-year-old recorded his only bogey of the day at the par-five 15th, where he overshot the green with his third, but signed off in style by draining a 20-footer to birdie the last.
"I'm very pleased, it was nice to get off to a good start," said Spieth, who birdied four of his first nine holes on a receptive, rain-softened layout at Augusta National to race to the turn in four-under 32.
"The course was as gettable as I think it will be this week today. To make nine birdies out here, you know, that's a dreamy round for me. It was a lot of fun."
Spieth finished three shots in front of American Charley Hoffman, 2013 US Open champion Justin Rose of England, four-time major winner Ernie Els of South Africa and Australian Jason Day.
World number one McIlroy, in pursuit of a career grand slam of the four majors, hit a couple of poor chip shots on his front nine on the way to a 71 that left him seven strokes off the pace.
Four-times champion Woods often struggled off the tee and on the greens as he opened with a 73.
"It was a good day, I felt like I hit the ball well enough to shoot three under par," said Woods, who decided only six days ago to compete at Augusta National after struggling badly with his short game in his two tournament starts this season.