Willett’s decent front nine unravelled somewhat with a double bogey on the 10th and despite a recovery, another bogey on the 15th would eventually see the former champion finish three over for the round.
Fitzpatrick meanwhile suffered a turbulent front nine, posting four bogeys and it didn’t get much better from there on in with the Hallamshire man ending the day on six over.
Tiger Woods carded four birdies and two bogeys in an opening round, two under par 70, while Ian Poulter was on course for a clubhouse lead.
"I thought I hit a lot of good shots and if I missed I missed in the correct spots and had some of the simpler up and downs because of that," Woods told ESPN.
"I missed a few (putts) for sure, misread a couple and hit one bad one at six but other than that a good solid day."
Rory McIlroy, who needs to win the Masters to complete a career grand slam was outside the top 40 after an opening 73.
McIlroy was two over par for the day after bogeys on the 10th and 11th but rallied superbly to birdie the 13th, 15th and 16th, only to drop shots on the last two holes.
McIlroy was frustrated not to post a better score in the conditions, adding: "I felt the course was there. It's soft. There's not much wind.
"I made five birdies, that wasn't the problem. I just made too many mistakes. And I'm making mistakes from pretty simple positions, just off the side of the green, 17 and 18 being prime examples of that.”