We enjoyed Rory McIlroy scoring his lowest under-par round in a major since his record-breaking exploits at the US Open last year. We had Tiger Woods breaking 70 and John Daly providing a glorious reminder that few things pay in this game quite like perseverance.
In short, we had arguably the three most natural talents the game has seen over the past 20 years all producing the goods on the same day for perhaps the first time, and so providing the 94th US PGA Championship with an electrifying beginning.
Perhaps there is sporting life outside the Olympics after all.
Back on track: Rory McIlroy watches his drive from the 15th tee during a good start at Kiawah Island
Certainly there will be if Rory and Tiger keep going in the manner of their opening rounds, where the former struck the ball from tee to green with all the confidence of his best days to record a five-under-par 67 and the latter putted in the manner of yesteryear for a 69.
Daly, meanwhile, finished between them following a 68 to build on his performance in the Reno Tahoe Open last week, where he was tied fifth to register his best finish in America for seven years.
All three were on the first page of the leaderboard, chasing the American-based Swede Carl Pettersson, who shot 66. He showed his liking for Pete Dye-designed courses and golf in these parts in April when he won the Heritage Classic, about an hour’s drive away on another Dye course at Hilton Head.
Is there something in this grass lark? McIlroy had enthused in the build-up about the paspalum strain used here and predicted it would prove an advantage for players like himself, Dustin Johnson and defending champion Keegan Bradley, who all practice at the Bear’s Club in South Florida, where it is also used. Here, Bradley shot 68, Johnson 71, while McIlroy holed his share of putts as well for the ideal start.
Work to do: Tiger Woods found his touch on the greens but must improve his long game
Out on the range at 7.15am, the sun was shining, there was not a breath of wind and the 23-year-old knew if he was to make an impact on this major he had to take advantage.
Over the course of the next five hours he did much to suggest that, following a difficult summer, normal service is about to be resumed.
Here was McIlroy opening his shoulders once more and wielding his driver to great effect. What an asset it is when you can hit 330-yard drives straight and true. The sixth was a perfect example. Most of the field were hitting mid to short irons. McIlroy had a flick with a wedge for his approach.
It gave him one of five birdies during his first bogey-free round this year. The other thing that made a difference was a putting session with Dave Stockton at the Bridgestone Invitational last week, where McIlroy finished fifth.
Wild Thing: John Daly shot a superb four-under 68 to continue his fine recent form
Stockton, a controversial Ryder Cup captain here in 1991, has reinvented himself as a putting guru and done wonders for McIlroy’s confidence on the greens. ‘He made a slight adjustment to my routine and stroke that has made a huge difference,’ said McIlroy.
The other thing the American suggested was to play with his head up and a smile on his face. This used to come naturally to the Northern Irishman but his typically sunny countenance has not been much in evidence over the past few months. ‘It is something I’ve tried to do this week and last, and it has definitely helped,’ he said.
Off course: Luke Donald hits from the sand by the seventh green during a disappointing round
For those who think Woods cannot putt any more, how does a total of 22 putts for 18 holes on these sloping greens sound? Twelve single putts allowed Tiger to escape with an eminently encouraging score, but he knows he will have to raise his game from tee to green if he is to end his four-year major drought.
Two months before the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah, a redneck from Arkansas drove through the night as the last reserve to get into the PGA field and duly ended up four days later with the Wanamaker Trophy. What a life Daly has lived in the intervening 21 years and how good it is that, at 46, he seems to have finally found a little inner peace. ‘The most important thing is my mind is right, I’m healthy at last, and it is giving me a chance,’ he said.
Looking good: Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell started the year's final major in style
Like these players, Lee Westwood was another blessed with an early tee time on a day when the wind picked up after lunch to make life difficult for the afternoon starters. But the 39-year-old Englishman seems to have lost his mojo and another major year appears about to come and go without him winning one after opening with a poor 75.
Better news concerned Ian Poulter, who could do with a good week to boost his Ryder Cup chances and opened with a useful 70. Not so Martin Kaymer, without a top-10 finish since April and likely to drop out of the automatic qualifying spots after a 79.
Among the afternoon starters, Spanish Ryder Cup hopeful Gonazalo Fernandez-Castano fared best with a fine 67, while Aussie Adam Scott bounced back from his Open meltdown with a 68. Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell was four under but world No 1 Luke Donald has work to do on Friday morning after a 74.