AUGUSTA, Georgia — The opening round of the 79th Masters was one for the ages, with 21-year-old Jordan Spieth and 21-year PGA tour veteran Ernie Els posting the lowest numbers on Thursday at Augusta National.

Spieth birdied nine holes and fired a 64, becoming the youngest first-round leader in tournament history at 21 years, 8 months and narrowly missed the course and major tournament record of 63 for a round. To win the 2015 Masters, he must hurdle more history and become the second player in 30 years to lead the first and final rounds.

“Certainly played well,” Spieth said. “Shoot 64 at Augusta National, it’s my first round (here) under 70. When I was there on 15, I knew if I could birdie there I could get to 10 on the day. I’ve never shot 10 under in a professional round in my life.”

Spieth, the 2014 runner-up to Bubba Watson, put his name atop the leaderboard with the seventh birdie — and fifth in six holes — on the par-5 13th and hit the flagstick with his second shot on 14, tapping in for another birdie to sneak to 8 under. He was the first player with nine birdies in a round at the Masters since Tiger Woods in 2011.

After Spieth fell back to 7 under with a bogey on the par-5 15th, he rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on 18.

“He’s special, man,” said Els, who is playing in his 21st Masters, of Spieth. “He’s just a magnificent guy, great little player — he does everything well. … He’s going to be tough to beat.”

Jason Day was 6 under through 16 and alone in second place when Spieth left the course.

Els held the lead after five birdies on his first 14 holes and an eagle on 15. The 45-year-old South African, who was the Masters runner-up in 2004, scratched an up-and-down to dodge trouble caused by a wayward tee shot on the par-4 17th. He ended the round with a three-putt and enters the second round in a tie with Rose and Charley Hoffman.

“If you hype this thing too much, you’re not going to play good,” said Hoffman, who noted the perfect course conditions before near-90-degree temperatures greeted afternoon groups.

Rose matched Hoffman, who was in the first group Thursday morning, with a 67 to share the lead entering the clubhouse at the end of his opening round before Els and Spieth surged in the afternoon to drop them into a tie for third.

With a birdie on the 12th, Spieth surged into a share of the lead with Els, continuing his strong play of late. In Spieth’s past three events this season, he has a win and two runner-up finishes.

Tiger Woods, who entered the day ranked 111th in the world after a 63-day layoff, had a solid if adventurous day. Despite spraying the ball off the tee and finding a water hazard, Woods was saved by his short game on multiple occasions.

American Russell Henley fired a 68 and a host of players finished 3 under (69), including Americans Bill Haas and Ryan Palmer and England’s Paul Casey.

It is the second Masters for Hoffman, who tied for 27th in 2011, but he set the pace with a birdie on the par-3 16th after an eagle on the par-5 15th. Hoffman, 38, snapped a five-year PGA victory drought in November and is ranked 63rd in the World Golf Rankings. He bogeyed No. 3 and 11 but had a birdie on the par-4 fifth.

Even if he doesn’t etch his name on the trophy at Augusta, Hoffman is leaving with mementos. Before the round, Hoffman warmed up next to golf royalty and couldn’t resist asking Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer for autographs on Masters flags he said he will sell at a charity auction.

One of the feel-good stories of the first round was two-time Masters champion Tom Watson (1977, 1981). Watson, 65, bogeyed the 17th to give a stroke back but finished at 1-under 71 and could become the oldest player to make the cut. He last made it to Saturday in 2010.

“At my age,” Watson joked, “It’s a minor miracle.”

Rose, in his 10th Masters, has never missed the cut in the tournament and helped set the pace at 3 under through nine holes, making the most of consistent birdie putt chances. He had putts for eagle on 14 and 15. He tapped in a birdie on 15 to join Hoffman at 5 under and missed a birdie on 17 that would have given Rose sole possession of the lead.