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Masters 2024: The best photos from Augusta's honorary starters ceremony

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Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Gary Player pose with Masters chairman Fred Ridley after the honorary starters ceremony on Thursday.

Ben Walton

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Better late than never. Despite a roughly 2½-hour delay due to overnight rain, the honorary starters ceremony had all the sights and sounds anxious patrons long for to signal the start of the 2024 Masters.

Even under overcast skies, the event did little to disappoint with chairman Fred Ridley dutifully introducing the trio. Sure Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson—who have combined to win 11 green jackets and made 140 Masters starts over six decades—get around a bit slower. But their presence provides the connective tissue from the tournament’s rich past to the present.

At age 88, Player still looks fit enough to be competing in the main event. After stripping a drive down the middle, the South African did his now-traditional kick in the air as if he was ready to go down and play his second shot.

Nicklaus, 84, followed, playing his role of self-deprecating legend. “Aren’t these tees a little more forward usually?” he jokingly quipped as he teed up his shot. His wife, Barbara, served as his honorary caddie.

After Nicklaus’ little draw found the fairway, Watson came to the tee and couldn’t help but poke fun at Nicklaus. “You never hit a hook off this tee in your life!” said Watson. Nicklaus quickly replied: “It was a neck pull.”

Watson, 74, then proceeded to find the fairway with a slight fade as well.

Six minutes total from start to finish, with Ridley closing with the words everyone has anxiously waited to hear: “The 2024 Masters is officially underway.”

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