The 89-year-old Snead is recovering from strokelike symptoms that surfaced about six weeks ago.
He has hit the opening tee shot every year since 1984, although this might have been the most eventful.
'I got it off the ground,' Snead said after walking off the first tee.
Snead, a three-time Masters champion who holds the PGA Tour record with 81 victories, did not stop for interviews. His son and caddie, Jack Snead, said he suffered a ministroke six weeks ago and is still recovering.
'He's really not capable of doing interviews,' the son said. 'He should be up and ready to go in another week.'
It was the first time Snead did not tee up the ball himself.
The man reputed to have the sweetest swing in golf made clean contact in more ways than one. The drive sailed to the right about 100 yards and hit a man in the face. The spectator was treated for an abrasion on his nose. His name was not immediately available.
This was the first time Snead was the only player on the tee for the ceremonial first shot. Gene Sarazen died three years ago, and Byron Nelson was an honorary starter for the final time last year.
Snead played in his first Masters in 1937 and has been back for every tournament since then. He last played a full round in 1983, shooting 79 before withdrawing.
The closest he came to missing his tee time was in 1999, when Snead was hospitalized two days before the Masters with what turned out to be fatigue.
He was discharged the next day, and made it to the first tee.
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