With an expectant gallery looking on, Woods hit his tee shot at the par-four first left into the pine straw but emerged with an opening par.
"I don't really know actually because since - since very beginning, I will - I just watch on TV all the time".
Spieth called it a "fantastic shot" and says he "couldn't get it any closer with a bucket of balls".
"It's Round 1", he said.
Even Tiger Woods' own mother - who knows every shortcut and special viewing secret at Augusta National - was unable to get more than a few glimpses of her boy. I can't keep leaving myself where I'm at, (only) birdieing two holes and making bogeys. "It's about riding momentum from last week and this round".
McIlroy is in a group of seven players one further shot back on three-under, alongside European duo Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello; Americans Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman; Canada's Adam Hadwin and Haotong Li of China.
Playing partner Marc Leishman was leading the event at 2 under.
His victory came one year after Tiger Woods, to whom he played the role of mentor at the time, had won the Green Jacket by 12 strokes.
Woods said was moved by the support he received from fans and said he was proud of salvaging a round that at times looked like it was going to go off the rails. The romantic possibility of him winning his first Masters title for 13 years was a relentless theme.
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"It was interesting, an up and down day for me today", Woods told ESPN.
"The better you can shoot the first couple rounds, understanding that it gets harder and harder, the better off you'll be", Spieth said. We were anticipating just fighting our way back to even par.
The former year would be his return to golf following a well-documented personal scandal. "It's just it was a really good start". I wasn't flying high.
The golf researcher Justin Ray counted that Woods' name had been said 130 times in interviews with other players.
"But I'll always have a tremendous amount of confidence out here".
"I felt like I hit a lot of good shots and unfortunately the ball just didn't want to stop".
Garcia was only two over par when he teed off on number 15 Thursday afternoon - he was 10 over by the end of it thanks to five consecutive shots that ended up in the water. Instead, an nearly comical start to the hole left Spieth 270 yards from the green for his third shot, but he made another sensational chip to within inches to save a bogey for the 66. He finished with a 13, equaling the record for the highest score ever on a Masters hole. Garcia made an eagle 3 on the same hole in the final round previous year en route to victory. The 60-year-old's 74 was illuminated by an eagle at the 15th.
"I could have dropped to over par, and it led to stepping on 8 tee feeling regrouped", he said.
Longtime endorser Nike sought to build hype with a new ad released Thursday morning called "Welcome Back".