Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods dominated the build-up to this week's Masters, but it was 21-year-old American Jordan Spieth who produced the fireworks in the opening round at Augusta National.
Spieth, the hottest player in the game over the past six months, raised hopes of shooting the first ever 62 at a major championship before he ran out of steam over the closing stretch to fire an eight-under-par 64.
The 21-year-old recorded his only bogey of the day at the par-five 15th, where he overshot the green with his third shot, 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 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England, four-time major winner Ernie Els of South Africa and Australian Jason Day on a top-notch leaderboard.
World number one McIlroy, in pursuit of a rare 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, who shares the brightest glare of the spotlight with McIlroy this week on his much anticipated return from a two-month hiatus while reworking his swing, often struggled off the tee as he opened with a 73.