Paul Casey's bid to claim his maiden Major Championship title at the 66th time of asking got off to a brilliant start as he opened up a two shot lead on a weather affected first day of the 2020 Masters Tournament.
The Englishman has a decent record at Augusta National Golf Club, having recorded five top tens in his 13 visits to date, and he made his experience count as he fired an eagle, five birdies and no bogeys on day one to head into the clubhouse on seven under par.
Casey and his fellow morning starters benefitted from favourable scoring conditions and soft greens after play had been suspended for two hours and 45 minutes due to inclement weather early on Thursday.
As a result of that suspension there were still more than 40 players out on course when daylight eventually ran out, and they will return to complete their opening rounds on Friday.
Casey's magnificent 65 handed him a two shot advantage over Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele after they fired opening 67s, while their fellow American Justin Thomas was also on five under with eight holes of his round still to play.
Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama and defending champion Tiger Woods were in the clubhouse another stroke back in a tie for fifth, with 2013 champion Adam Scott, Matthew Wolff and Dylan Frittelli also on that mark.
After the first groups had got under way 10 minutes behind schedule at 07.10 on Thursday morning due to darkness, only 25 minutes of action was possible before the siren sounded to call the players off the course.
Heavy rain left standing water on several holes and play eventually resumed at 10.20am after a lengthy delay, with all tee times pushed back by three hours.
Beginning his round from the tenth tee shortly after play restarted, Casey opened up with a birdie from five feet before picking up another shot at the long 13th.
After narrowly missing his eight foot eagle try on the back nine's second par five - the 15th - Casey tapped in from four feet for his third birdie of the day.
Casey, who recorded his best finish in a Major when he came joint second at the 2020 US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in August, then made it two birdies in a row after sending his tee shot to four feet on the short 16th.
After safely parring his way to the turn, Casey catapulted himself to the top of the leaderboard with a stunning eagle on the second, lifting his approach to four feet before draining the putt to get to six under.
The 14 time European Tour winner then gave himself a birdie putt from about seven feet on the third but this time he was unable to convert and had to settle for a par.
He did well to get up and down from a greenside bunker for par on the fifth before moving to seven under after taking advantage of the short sixth.
Casey then parred his way home to establish a two shot clubhouse lead.
The 43-year-old was pleased to be putting his Augusta experience to good use. He said: "My first appearance was in 2004 so I know this golf course better than most.
"I've just been excited to get out here. Honestly, I've felt this season's been flat, I've looked forward to this week for a long time.
"I know there’s no patrons out there but it’s a golf course I love to play, the chance to play it in 2020 in a very different situation was something I was looking forward to, and I’ve put together a great round of golf today.
"I've been hitting it so bad recently so I've genuinely worked really hard the last few weeks - and the last two weeks were no exception.
"I'm usually not like Alex Noren. I typically don't have blisters on my hands but I do right now. So a lot of work in a small amount of time has paid off and it translated onto the golf course today.
"It felt like Masters that I've played over the last 16 years so it was nice to draw on those memories of how putts break.
"It's a very different golf course right now with a little bit of Bermuda grass in there and obviously the soft conditions but experience is still experience around Augusta National."