SYDNEY (AFP) -US Masters runner-up Jordan Spieth upstaged tournament drawcards Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott to grab a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Australian Open in Sydney on Thursday.
The 21-year-old American holed six birdies and two bogeys in a four-under 67 to lead Australians Aron Price and Scott Gardiner. Spieth stole the opening round headlines from world number one McIlroy and third-ranked Scott in tricky conditions at the Jack Nicklaus-designed The Australian course.
Jet-lagged McIlroy believes his best is yet to come as he defends the title he won last year after opening with four birdies and two bogeys in an opening 69 to be two strokes adrift of Spieth.
But it was a disastrous start by Scott, who finished three over 74 and in some danger of missing Friday’s halfway cut after a double-bogey, three bogeys and just two birdies.
Spieth comes into the event as a runner-up at the Masters last April behind team-mate Bubba Watson, just missing out on being the first Masters rookie to win since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.
“Overall, it was a solid round, I putted great, my short game kept me in today,” Spieth said.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve led after round one, but my approach tomorrow is just trying to keep it consistent, don’t worry about the scoreboard and let my putter do the work.”
Northern Irishman McIlroy, who flew in late Monday from Dubai where he was runner-up to Sweden’s Henrik Stenson in last weekend’s DP World Tour Championship, was looking for some rest after a 4.30am wake-up call for his early start at The Australian.
“I definitely feel like there is a better score out there,” he said. “I gave myself a lot of chances early on in the round but didn’t really take them.
“I started off OK but in the middle of the round I hit a couple of loose shots and actually made a couple of good up-and-downs for pars, but then made three birdies on the back nine against one bogey.”