Arnold Palmer fought off his separated shoulder to kick off the 2015 Masters. The highlight of the week for so many was carried out with a huge crowd of the most devoted patrons and media under sunny skies.
With Palmer's uncertainty there was an added tension, but The King came through:
Johnny Miller was one of the many players who came to see the honorary starters (Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler were others). Naturally, Johnny only sees the sunny side. Sam Weinman reports.
"You don't know how long Arnie's going to be around," Miller said. "I knew he's fallen a couple of times, you can see his balance isn't very good. But it was pretty gutsy for him to get up there and hit."
Ever the analyst, Miller noted Palmer's tee shot was a "low, quick hook that almost hit some people." He didn't need to break down Jack Nicklaus' swing since Nicklaus did it for him.
"He said, 'Ah, I hit it off the toe, that's why (Gary Player) outdrove me,'" Miller said of their exchange while walking off the tee. "It's strange because I'm used to these guys being competitive. In my life, that's how I knew them. But time doesn't favor anyone, does it?"
**Steve DiMeglio with the post-tee shot press conference highlights from The Big Three.
"My friendship with them has been fantastic," Player began. "We always wanted to beat the living hell out of each other. We made that very clear. But when we did lose, we said, 'Well done and congratulations, maybe I'll get you next week.'
"They have been to my farm; we have been down gold mines; I've slept at Arnold's house; slept at Jack's house, food was lousy."
"I'll tell Barbara that," Nicklaus said referring to his wife.
And Player ended with one more story. He was staying at Nicklaus' house during a PGA Tour tournament as the two were at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round.
"Now Barbara is making the breakfast, and I'm thinking, hell, I'm a bit worried about this, we're tied. So when she put the eggs on the table and she went to the kitchen, I swapped them around," Player said. "But it didn't help because he beat me anyway.
"You can have love for a woman and you can have love for a friend, and I think the greatest word that exists in any book of note is love and I think this is what we've had for each other."
**Gene Wojciechowski with this fun anecdote after the opening tee shots that set the tone for a fun day.
What a cool Thursday. For you. For us.
We saw Day put together one, two, three, four, five consecutive birdies on the back nine to move into contention. Is that any good?
We saw Hoffman hold the clubhouse lead for much of the day after teeing off in the first group. And that might not have been the highlight of his Thursday. Earlier in the morning on the driving range, Hoffman nervously asked Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus for their autographs. He got their signatures and later got a 5-under 67. Fun.