Rory McIlroy recovered from another Masters nightmare in Augusta to get his green jacket bid back on track.
A year after blowing a four shot lead on the final day, the US Open champion double bogeyed the first hole of his first round.
The 22-year-old battled on however after two more bogeys on the back nine and birdied the last two holes to finish on one under par.
“It’ll make dinner taste a lot better tonight,” McIlroy told the waiting press after his opening round 71, six shots off last year’s 65 on day one.
“I wanted to at least finish even par, and birdieing the last was really nice. I’m definitely happy coming off the course in red numbers.
“I wouldn’t quite say it was a soap opera, but it wasn’t the best obviously. It wasn’t the start that I would have liked to have got off to but I steadied the ship and made three birdies on the front nine to turn under par.”
McIlroy is now tied for 14th and within sight of leader Lee Westwood, on five under, going into the second round on Friday.
“I stayed very patient out there and didn’t try and force things,” added McIlroy.
“I’ve been waiting for this day to come around for a couple weeks, to be honest. I’ve just been waiting and waiting, and it was nice when I finally got here.
“I’m pretty pleased with how I started. It could have been a little better. But I’ll take 71, and hopefully it’s a good score to build on.”