Palmer, Nicklaus & Player Officially Start Masters

Honorary starters Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were joined on the first tee Thursday morning by fellow legend Gary Player to officially begin the 76th Masters. All three hit the fairway with their shots.

Hitting first, the 82-year-old Palmer - a four-time Masters winner - drove straight down the fairway.

Next up was Player, a three-time Masters champion. Making his debut as an official starter, the 76-year-old South African hit a fine drive down the right-center of the fairway that proved to be the longest.

"I don't think any of us can see that far," joked the 72-year-old Nicklaus, who hit last and owns a record six green jackets. "We can hear them land, though."

In his introduction of the starters, Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne said, "Three great legends, three great men."

The trio has made a total of 147 appearances at the Masters. Player alone made a record 52 starts.

Of joining his two friends and former rivals on the first tee, Player said, "It was a great thrill, having had this wonderful relationship, great friendship with Arnold and Jack for a long, long time and having traveled extensively around the world together."

One of the pre-tournament favorites, Phil Mickelson, a three-time Masters champion, came out for the opening ceremony. "That was cool," he told reporters. "That was cool."