Big Three kick off Masters

In front of a huge crowd, the 'Big Three' of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player launched the 78th Masters on Thursday while Adam Scott prepared to begin his title defence.

On a glorious morning of bright sunshine at Augusta National, four-times champion Palmer, three-times winner Player and Nicklaus, who won a record six green jackets, hit the ceremonial first shots at the par-four opening hole.
Palmer struck a solid blow up the middle before fellow golfing great Player out drove him by around 50 yards, his ball ending up well below the crest of the hill in the centre of the fairway, some 210 yards from the tee.
Nicklaus hit the longest drive of the three, his ball bouncing up the middle of the fairway before settling a yard ahead of Player, a few yards to the right.
"Today no butterflies, just happy to get the first tee shot over," a smiling Nicklaus, 74, told reporters afterwards.
Five minutes later, American Stewart Cink struck the tournament's first competitive shot by teeing off at the opening hole. 

Cink was then followed by South African Tim Clark, who was runner-up here in 2006.
A notable absentee this week is world number one Tiger Woods, who has been sidelined since having back surgery for a pinched nerve.

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