Four-time winner Arnold Palmer, who said last month he would not tee off to help launch the year's first major, watched from a chair at the first tee.
This was the first time since becoming an honorary starter at Augusta in 2007 that Palmer did not tee off.
The 86-year-old Palmer gave the "thumbs up" signal to Player and Nicklaus as the crowd swelled.
After introducing Palmer, Masters chairman Billy Payne set the stage for Player to hit first. He took two practice swings and drove his ball into the cener of the fairway.
Wiping away tears, Nicklaus stepped up and found the left side of the fairway, about 15 yards short of Player's ball.
Afterward, the three legends who have won 13 Masters between them, posed for photos.
The tournament began with Jim Herman and Steven Bowditch teed off about 15 minutes later.