Golf roundup: Jason Day is three shots back of Australian Open leader Cameron Davis
Defending champion Jordan Spieth struggled in gusty afternoon winds Thursday at the Australian Open, while Jason Day took advantage of more calm morning conditions.
The result was that the tournament’s marquee players were overshadowed by first-round leader Cameron Davis, who shot an eight-under-par 63 at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney.
That left Day, making his first competitive appearance in his home country since 2013, three strokes behind after a 66. Spieth was seven strokes behind after shooting 70.
Spieth, who bogeyed his first two holes and appeared to be out of sorts for most of his round, is trying to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years.
Taylor MacDonald was two strokes behind fellow Australian Davis and alone in second place, while two other Australians, Nick Cullen and Alex Edge, were level with Day at five under, tied for third.
All but two of the leading 18 players had morning tee times.
Spieth said he was rusty after a lengthy break.
“It was a bit inconsistent,” Spieth said. “But I had five bogeys, and to still shoot under par is really good. There was a bit of good there after a rough start.”
An indication of the state of Spieth’s play came on the par-five 14th hole when his approach went wide and under a large advertising sign. Spieth and a course worker moved the sign, then Spieth hit his short wedge into a bunker. After blasting out to about seven feet, he missed the putt and made bogey.
Matt Jones, the 2015 champion playing in Spieth’s group, picked up some of the American’s bad luck. He bogeyed three holes in a row and then got chased by a duck coming up the 16th fairway before finishing with a 71.
Spieth missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the 16th, hit into the fairway bunker on the 17th and put his approach through the green, but scrambled to make par. He finished on a good note, though, making a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.
“I was a little anxious to get started, my short game was a bit rusty,” Spieth said. “But I started to pick it up and it was pretty good from there.”
Spieth should be able to take advantage of expected calmer conditions in his morning round on Friday.
“There were tremendous scoring conditions this morning which we’re hoping to see in the morning tomorrow, so I’ve got to go out and take advantage and move up the board,” he said. “Those guys will get what we had this afternoon and it’ll certainly be more difficult, so being seven back isn’t really seven back, given the difference in the waves.”
Day’s round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-four eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn’t get up and down.
“That was brutal,” Day said of the 440-meter hole. He recovered quickly, however, to birdie his last hole.
Chawrasia takes one-shot lead at Hong King Open
S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 season.
Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.
“Very tough conditions today,” Chawrasia said. “It’s very firm greens, to be honest. I’m just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.”
Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.
Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot is at two under with five birdies and three bogeys.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at one under.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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