Past Augusta champions Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel head up a six-strong South African contingent competing for the coveted green jacket in 2019.
The 2008 and 2011 champions are joined in Georgia, USA, by Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace.
Justin Harding and amateur Jovan Rebula, Ernie Els’ nephew, made their Augusta debuts with the former sharing the lead early on.
Harding stood atop the
He was among the last players to qualify for the Masters, reaching the world rankings top 50 after a win at Qatar and
The 33-year-old opened with a birdie from ten feet and added another at the third, landing his approach two feet from the cup. He took a bogey at the fifth, missing the green on his approach and a 12-foot par putt, but answered with a four-foot birdie putt at the par-3 sixth.
Harding birdied the par-5 15th and par-4 17th but found a bunker at 18, blasted out to 14 feet and two-putted for bogey to fall back into a share of the overall lead.
Tiger Woods later sank a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-4 14th hole to grab his share of the
Woods was on three-under par with three holes to play and atop the leaderboard with Spanish playing partner Jon Rahm, South African Justin Harding in the clubhouse and fellow American Patton Kizzire.
The 43-year-old superstar, a 14-time major winner seeking his fifth Masters green jacket, missed some short putts on the front nine but sank a five-footer for birdie at the ninth.
He two-putted the par-5 13th from 53 feet for birdie and sank his dramatic long effort at 14 to evoke a roar from the crowd that lined every hole he played at Augusta National.
Woods, who hasn’t won a major since the 2008 US Open, came back from spinal fusion surgery last year and contended in the British Open and PGA Championship before winning his 80th career US PGA title at the Tour Championship.