Australian Adam Scott joined world golf's biggest names in making a frenzied attack on the leaderboard in the opening round of the British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The 141st Open began under leaden skies on Thursday, but there was nothing dark about the hot starts for many of the tournament fancies.
Open favourite Tiger Woods had warned his challengers to bring their A games and the three-times champion certainly brought his as he birdied the 205-yard par-three opener after knocking his sizzling tee shot to little more than six feet and draining the putt.
On a star-studded leaderboard, fellow major champions Ernie Els, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel, plus Scott and Englishmen Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, also swiftly moved into red numbers.
But it was Woods who seized the outright lead from Scott and Scotland's 1999 champion Paul Lawrie midway through their rounds.
After his birdie on the first, Woods picked up further shots on the fourth and sixth holes to charge to three under to lay down the challenge to rivals.
Backing up from his season-best third-place finish behind Woods at last month's AT & T National on the US PGA Tour, Scott dropped a stroke on the 478-yard par-four third, but responded in style with birdies on the fourth, sixth and seventh holes.
His outward 34 matched Lawrie, who recorded a hat-trick of birdies from the third before taking bogey on the 416-yard par-four eighth.
Poulter, another classy Englishman chasing his maiden major, Els, former US Open champion McDowell, last year's Masters winner Schwartzel and green jacket holder Watson all went to one-under early.
Westwood, widely viewed as Woods' greatest threat as he strives to break his major duck on home soil, opened with back-to-back birdies, but spoiled his dream start with a double-bogey on the third.
With the greens soft but the rough lush and hazardous, no-one was able to make a jump on the field.
Unheralded Englishman Matthew Baldwin and Sri Lankan Adilson da Silva were the early clubhouse leaders after each carded a one-under-par 69.
Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, bidding to become the first man in 40 years to complete the Scottish Open-British Open double, was also one-under.