AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Gary Player's score in Thursday's first round was nothing for the record books. But his appearance certainly was.
The 72-year-old South African, a three-time winner of the green jacket (1961, '74, '78), made his 51st Masters start, the most of any player in the event's history. He broke the mark of 50 he had held jointly with friend and longtime rival Arnold Palmer, who retired after the 2004 Masters and now serves as the tournament's honorary starter.
"I felt some pressure on the first tee," Player told reporters outside the Augusta National clubhouse after his round, "It's a hell of an honor to know you've played this tournament more than anyone else."
Player was his usual upbeat self, despite shooting 83. He made eight bogeys, two double bogeys and a lone birdie, at the par-5 13th.
"Well, par for me is 80, so I was three over par today," said Player, smiling. "That's one tough golf course. No question, the toughest course I've ever played, not even a doubt."