Augusta, GA (Sports Network) - Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player
own 13 green jackets between them and the trio opened the 77th Masters with
ceremonial tee shots at Augusta National Thursday morning.
The tradition of honorary starters at the Masters dates to 1963. All three
former champions found the fairway with their tee shots at the par-4 opening
Nicklaus, 73, Palmer, 83, and Player, 77, teed off at 7:50 a.m. ET before the
first group that included 1988 winner Sandy Lyle, John Peterson and amateur
Play began under cloudy, foggy skies and temperatures in the low 60s. The
conditions are playable early this morning, but rain and possible lightning
are expected later in the afternoon. Rain is also a threat Friday, while the
weekend forecast is nearly ideal, with plenty of sun and temperatures in the
A year ago, the annual Par 3 contest was shortened by storms, but the
tournament itself was completed without interruption. The last weather delay
was in 2008.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods is slated to tee off mid-morning just ahead of the
group that includes defending champion Bubba Watson. Woods, who hasn't won a
major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open, is paired with world No. 4 Luke
Donald and Scott Piercy.
Watson is playing the first two rounds with Ian Poulter and U.S. Amateur champ
Thursday's penultimate group consists of world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, 2011 PGA
Championship winner Keegan Bradley and Fredrik Jacobson. The threesome will be
preceded by three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, last year's runner-up
Louis Oosthuizen and former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer.
On Wednesday, Ted Potter, Jr. emerged from a five-way tie atop the leaderboard
to win the Par 3 contest, edging Mickelson, Ernie Els, Nick Watney and Matt
Kuchar in a playoff.
A word of warning to Potter: no Par 3 winner has triumphed at the Masters the
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