Lee Westwood held the first-round lead at The Masters after matching his lowest ever score at Augusta with a 67 on Thursday.
Less than three weeks away from his 39th birthday, England's world number three, runner-up to Phil Mickelson two years ago and with five top three finishes in his last nine majors, ended the day one in front of South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, the only man to beat him in the 2010 Open at St Andrews, and Swede Peter Hanson.
Rory McIlroy, who blew the tournament with a closing 80 last year, recovered from an opening double bogey to hand in a 71, finishing with back-to-back birdies.
In contrast a wayward Tiger Woods bogeyed the last two for a 72, while an even wilder Mickelson and world number one Luke Donald could do no better than 74 and 75 respectively.
Woods had to take penalty drops in the trees at the second and 18th and reckoned that off the tee he had "hit some of the worst shots I've ever hit". He was hastily off to the range afterwards.
Henrik Stenson was six under after 15, but followed a three-putt bogey on the short 16th with a quadruple bogey eight at the last and had to settle for a 71.
Scot Paul Lawrie, playing the event for the first time since 2004, eagled the 13th and 15th for a three under 69 that had set the early clubhouse target.
Lawrie is in a tie for fourth place, while Ireland's Padraig Harrington - winner of the curtain-raising par three competition for a record third time and therefore trying to break a hoodoo once again as nobody has gone on from that to Masters glory - England's Ross Fisher, Stenson and McIlroy are joint 14th.
Justin Rose and Ian Poulter are only one further back and tied for 29th with Woods.
Open champion Darren Clarke, bothered by a groin strain before the start, had a 73, Graeme McDowell 75, Martin Laird, Simon Dyson and Paul Casey 76, Ian Woosnam, 77 and 1988 winner Sandy Lyle, Britain's first champion, a worst-of-the-day 86 - 46 of them by the turn.