Adam Scott produced a scintillating birdie blitz around Amen Corner to post an early clubhouse target of one under par 71 in his Masters Tournament debut.
The 21 year Australian picked up four successive birdies from the 12th to join the early leaders at Augusta National.
Scott arrived at Augusta National in peak form after last month adding the Qatar Masters title to his victory in the 2001 Alfred Dunhill Championship. Just a fortnight ago he received a further boost to his confidence when he finished tied sixth in the Shell Houston Open, won by the 2000 Masters Champion, Vijay Singh.
Scott’s Masters Tournament debut may not have started as planned as he slipped to three over par after six holes, dropping shots at the second, fifth and sixth holes, but he soon steadied the ship with a birdie on the 570 yard par five eighth. But it was as he reached Amen Corner, confronted by arguably the most famous and treacherous stretch of holes in the world, that Scott hit top form.
A birdie two at the short 12th was followed by another birdie among the azaleas on the newly lengthened par five 13th hole. The 14th tee has also been moved back 35 yards to increase the length of the hole to 440 yards but Scott was on a roll and holed out to move under par for the first time.
A fourth successive birdie and fifth in total was duly converted on the 15th to take him to two under par. Scott dropped a shot on the next but safely negotiated the tough finishing holes to conclude a round of 71.
Reigning US Open champion and 2001 Volvo Order of Merit winner Retief Goosen, who captured the BellSouth Classic last week, also made a strong start, moving to two under par after five holes before falling back to level par at the turn.
José Maria Olazábal, currently second in both the Volvo Order of Merit and the US PGA Tour Money List, made a spectacular start to his bid for a third Green Jacket with an eagle three on the second hole after his second shot on the 575 yard par five to within five feet. The 1994 and 1999 Champion reached the halfway mark in one under par.
Tiger Woods made a solid start to the defence of his title, parring the opening hole, one of nine toughened up this year. His opening drive carved right and clattered into a tree before rebounding left. His second shot found the greenside bunker and, after playing out to 12 feet, holed his putt for a par. Buit he did not take long to move into his stride with a hat-trick of birdies from the third. Although he bogeyed the sixth the World Number One reached the turn in two under par.