This was a Masters first-round story like no other, with a very defined beginning, middle and end.

It all started with a touching tribute to the late Arnold Palmer and there was a moment in the ceremonial opening tee-shot ritual when Jack Nicklaus tipped his hat to the crowd and then raised it to his old pal in the heavens.

Then, when play got under way we watched the gunslinger walk of Dustin Johnson to the first tee before, dramatically, with just three minutes to his start time, he stepped away to the sanctuary of the club-house, conceding that the freak back injury he sustained in a fall on Wednesday would have made him uncompetitive.

Near the end of the day we then witnessed the astonishing late run of Charley Hoffman.

The 40-year-old four-time PGA Tour winner got a feel for the elements like no-one else and he proceeded to birdie seven of the last 11 holes for a 65. A seven-under-par round, which given the heavy winds, represented some of the finest golf ever played in first round of the Masters.

Speaking afterwards, Hoffman said: "It was a dream. You hit the shots that you looking at and then the hardest part is to convert the putts and I was able to do that and I got some good numbers coming down the stretch.

"I was able to see shots where you want them to go and that helps the belief process somewhat."

Hoffman’s four-shot advantage is the largest first round in the Masters since Jackie Burke Jr held a similar lead in 1955.

In second place on three under is Masters debutant William McGurt and on -2, after a 70, is Masters veteran and joint runner-up last year Lee Westwood.

Just two shots outside the top three are Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry, whose level par 72s were more than three shots better than the scoring average on day one.

For Lowry, who got to -2 with four under to play, it’s the second year in a row he’s made a strong start to the Masters and was pleased with his round.

“It was very tough out there and that was as good as I’ve played in a long time,” he said.

“It was disappointing to bogey 15 and 16 but it’s hard to know when it’s going to ghost and when it’s not. You just have to commit to every shot and I’m good at doing that when I get on tough golf courses.

“I was out there playing with Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia today and myself and my caddie were standing talking on the 13th green saying it wasn’t long ago I was sitting at home watching the two of them play in this tournament.

“I feel like I’m well able to be in that company and I think I showed it today. I played every bit as good as the two lads,” Lowry added.

There’s to be more strong, gusting winds today before a relative calm sets in for the weekend but don’t bet on an end to the drama at this 81st Masters.