Justin Harding of South Africa leads the Masters at 2-under-par in early play at Augusta on Thursday. Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

AUGUSTA, Georgia – Tiger Woods teed off on Thursday morning in the opening round of the 83rd Masters, with South African Justin Harding alone at the top of the leaderboard at 2-under-par at Augusta National.

Woods, a 14-time major champion in quest of his fifth green jacket, blasted his opening shot 317 yards into the fairway while playing alongside Spain’s Jon Rahm and China’s Li Haotong.

Harding, 33, was among the last players to qualify for the Masters, reaching the top 50 of the world rankings after a win at Qatar and runner-up effort in Kenya last month in European Tour events.

Harding opened with a birdie, and added another at the third.

He took a bogey at the fifth, but answered with a birdie at the par-3 sixth.

Among those on the course at 1-under-par were Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya and Norwegian amateur Viktor Hovland, as well as Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard.

Meanwhile, South African great Gary Player, as well as Jack Nicklaus, performed the traditional starters ceremony on Thursday.

AFP