Despite a five-and-a-half-hour rain delay, the 69th Masters still managed an incredible-opening day of thrills and spills at Augusta National.

Mostly spills, it has to be said, although England's Luke Donald was in early contention for the first-round lead.

The crowd at the long 13th saw Tiger Woods send an eagle putt into Rae's Creek and England's Paul Casey, sixth on his debut last year, run up a quintuple bogey 10.

Those on the ninth saw Nick Faldo, like Woods a three-time champion, quit with a back injury when standing four-over.

Those on the first saw Woods's 90-yard pitch hit the flag and bounce into a bunker. And those on the second saw Woods hook a drive which hit trees and travelled barely 100 yards.

But the fans surrounding the short 16th witnessed something that has never been seen on any hole in the history of the tournament - a 14.

That was not by Woods, but by 1970 champion Billy Casper, who returning to the event at the age of 73 dumped five balls into the lake before finally making it over and then three-putting.

Casper beat by one the 13s of Tom Weiskopf at the 12th in 1980 and Tommy Nakajima at the 13th in 1978 - and beat by three the previous worst on the 16th by Herman Barron 55 years ago.

It was one of four unwanted records Casper set or equalled. His back nine of 57 - which came first because the delayed start led to the 93-strong field being sent off from the first and 10th tees - was the worst by eight.

His round of 106 was the worst by 11, and his front nine 49 matched the worst-ever.

At least he was spared the highest scores in major history. Ray Tinsley had a 19 on one hole in the US Open and JD Tucker shot an amazing 157 in the first round of the 1898 US Open.

It was only recently that some of the 'golden oldies' received letters from the club suggested they reconsider their lifetime exemption into the event.

Casper has not made the halfway cut since 1979, but after staying away for three years he decided he wanted to come back and play at least once more.

His struggles rather camouflaged the fact that Gary Player was only one away from matching the front nine record with a calamitous 48.

Now 69, Player triple-bogeyed the short fourth, double-bogeyed the first and seventh, and his only par was on the long second.

Casey had been so looking forward to coming back as well after such a successful debut, but he turned in 40 and then, after a birdie at the 12th, got into all sorts of trouble on the next.

With two to play the Ryder Cup star was seven-over and joint 83rd of the 92 players who remained following Faldo's withdrawal.

Alongside Casey was Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, whose debut turned into a nightmare with a back nine 42 and then a double bogey on the first, while British amateur champion Stuart Wilson managed only an 82.

Woods had to battle for all he was worth to be two-over after 11 holes, while Ernie Els, runner-up last year, set off with two bogeys and hit into the lake on the 15th. He turned three-over.

Today was not the first time Woods had putted into water. At the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama he went from the 17th green into the lake, but whereas he did not need to continue the hole then this was stroke play and even though he was able to go back and putt again he came off with a bogey six.

Some were coping with the conditions - and they included debutant Donald.

The 27-year-old from High Wycombe, second in the Players Championship two weeks ago, turned in 35 and after bogeying the first he birdied the next three, including a putt from off the green on the 205-yard fourth.

At that point, and as the light started to fade, Donald was alongside world number one Vijay Singh.

They were one behind American Chris DiMarco, who had his own hat-trick of birdies at the start of the outward half to reach four-under.

DiMarco holed-in-one on the opening day 12 months ago and shared the third round lead with Phil Mickelson before falling back.

As for Mickelson he chipped in on the second after opening with a bogey and when a 30-footer dropped on the 10th the left-hander stood two under and joint fourth.

The first shock of the tournament was to see David Duval's name at the top of the leaderboard.

Now 593rd in the rankings after an almighty slump, the former world number one had two early birdies, but he then bogeyed the seventh, ninth, 10th, 11th and 13th.

Darren Clarke, playing with Woods, was going fine at one-under after 11 and Padraig Harrington was on the same mark after 13.

The 93 players became 92 when three-time champion Nick Faldo withdrew with a bad back midway through his round. He was four over at the time.

Faldo, winner at Augusta National in 1989, 1990 and 1996, was four over when he walked off on the ninth hole.

"It's just gone tight and I can't make a backswing or a follow-through. It was my fourth shot on number two. It's funny - I can hit a bag of drivers, but with a shorter shot it does something to me. It just bites.

"It's something I've had for 18 months or so and I'm trying to strengthen it, but it just got me there. Good timing . . . this place of all places! I will go and hang upside down like a fruit bat to try to stretch it out."

Eventually, fading light beat those players remaining on the course and the claxon called them into the clubhouse with hihg hopes for a better start today.