John Senden. Photo: Getty Images
Leading progressive scores from the first round of the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club today (a-denotes amateur, par-72):
Player of the round: JOHN SENDEN - the 2006 champion chalked up eight birdies in a stylish six-under-par 66 to claim an early two-stroke advantage over the field.
Stat of the round: The top five players on the leaderboard all teed off in the benign morning conditions.
Shot of the day: MARCUS FRASER’S magical hole in one on the 184-metre par-3 15th hole.
They said it: "I’ve been lucky. I’ve won a bit of money and saved it. I never got married and divorced so I’ve probably got double than most of the guys on tour." - two-times Open champion PETER LONARD has a philosophical view on his decline from prominence.
Tournament summary: While Senden enjoys the view from atop the leaderboard, big names like Adam Scott, Robert Allenby and American great Tom Watson will all need to deliver in the second round to make the halfway cut.
Honest John Senden has jumped the field to claim a two-stroke advantage after the first round of the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney.
Fresh off his best year on the US PGA Tour, Senden collected eight birdies in a sizzling six-under-par opening-round 66 on Thursday. Senden, the world No.38 and champion of this tournament in 2006, capitalised on ideal scoring conditions to rebound from back-to-back bogeys on his inward nine and iced his round with consecutive birdies on his 16th and 17th holes.
"The golf course is in beautiful shape. We had the perfect conditions this morning, teeing off at 7 o’clock," Senden said.
"It doesn’t get much of a better day than it was today. I felt good the whole round. I got off to a bit of a hot start so it was nice to hang on to that during the middle of the round."
Senden has a two-stroke buffer over countrymen Richard Green and Kim Felton, English star Justin Rose and New Zealander Gareth Paddison, who all shot 68 in the morning before the wind picked up to claim several big names after lunch.Among the afternoon casualties were eight-times major champion Tom Watson, who carded a disappointing five-over 78, and 14-year-old Chinese sensation Guan Tianling, who is also in grave danger of missing the halfway cut following his nightmare 82.
Contesting the Open for the first time since 1985, Watson leaked six shots in four holes amid a horror stretch from the fifth to the eighth.
"I’m embarrassed," Watson said.
Using his broomstick putter after experimenting with a shorter blade in the lead-up, pre-tournament favourite Adam Scott squeezed out an even-par 72, while defending champion Greg Chalmers returned a respectable 71.
Like Senden, Rose also made a hot start, picking up three birdies in the first four holes en route to a front-nine 32. The world No.4 dropped his only shot of the day when he fluffed a greenside flop shot on the par-4 third, his 12th of the round.
"I decided to try and hit the high, sexy lob - that didn’t really come off," Rose said.
Starting on the 10th, Paddison briefly had the outright lead after racking up four birdies in five holes, but dropped back to the chasing pack with bogeys on the third and fifth - his 12th and 14th holes of the day.
Scott never really managed to get going after missing a four-foot birdie attempt on his opening hole, the par-4 10th.
He made birdie on the par-5 11th, but found the trees off the tee on the 12th, then overhit his approach on the short par-4 13th into the sand to post consecutive bogeys and fall back to one-over.
A two-putt birdie on the par-4 14th had Scott back at level par but he made a meal of the 15th, dunking a rescue shot into the drink and then missing his approach before getting up and down for bogey.
The British Open runner-up had a run of nine straight pars before getting back to even again with a birdie on his second-last hole to sign off for a 72.
"I would have loved to play better, but there’s 54 holes to go. That’s a lot of golf to play," Scott said.
"So a course like this, just like those guys did today, you can have a good nine holes and you’re right back in it."