The cream has risen to the top at Royal Lytham, with six major champions at the top of the leaderboard at the Open Championship, including former world number one Tiger Woods.
But it was a player yet to join that exclusive club who set a clubhouse target that was proving hard to match, with Australia's Adam Scott taking advantage of benign conditions to card an opening 64, six under par.
Scotland's Paul Lawrie, who has made the cut just five times in 12 Opens since his shock win at Carnoustie in 1999, shared second place with former Masters champion Zach Johnson on five under, with Johnson looking for a second win in succession after claiming the John Deere Classic on Sunday.
Lawrie chipped in twice in the first five holes for two of his six birdies, admitting: "It was the most bizarre five holes of my career. I was three under and could have been one over."
But it was the appearance of Woods on the leaderboard which sparked the championship into life after a low-key start, the 14-time major champion moving into the outright lead with four birdies in his first seven holes.
Woods, who has been an also-ran or non-runner in the Open since his last win in 2006, had the chance to match the Open record of 29 for the front nine at Lytham when he hit a fine approach to the par-three ninth, but missed from 10ft as his putter went cold.
A bogey on the 15th after twice tangling with heavy rough left Woods three under and eventually signing for a 67 to finish alongside 2002 champion Ernie Els, current Masters champion Bubba Watson and former US Open winner Graeme McDowell.
Defending champion Darren Clarke returned an opening 76 which featured just one birdie, while David Duval, champion here in 2001, carded a 74.
World number three Lee Westwood birdied the first two holes but came home in 40 for a hugely disappointing 73.