A bogey-free round from Tiger Woods, fine play from nearly all the American invitees and an albatross from the home favourite: ’twas a fine day at The Lakes.
John Daly may have done his level best to steal the headlines, but Thursday at the 2011 Australian Open belongs to former World Number One Tiger Woods.
The fourteen-time major champion covered The Lakes course in 68 stokes, enough for a share of eighth place alongside Bubba Watson and Australian amateur Jake Higginbottom, among others.
Woods fired four birdies in the space of six holes around the turn and avoided dropping a single shot en route to the clubhouse.
The current world No58 wasn’t the most impressive of the United States’ President’s Cup participants, however.
That honour is shared by Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney, both of whom carded six-under-par 66s, a shot shy of the overnight pace set by international journeyman and cancer survivor Jarrod Lyle.
US team captain, Fred Couples, sits a rung lower on the leaderboard after recording a surprising, if not shocking, round of 67. His assistant captain, John Cook, fared only marginally worse and lies a shot adrift of a place in the top ten.
Adam Scott, anointed the pre-tournament favourite by an enthusiastic local media, shot a remarkable 69 that included four birdies, four bogeys and an albatross at the par-five eighth.
His six-iron from 199m (approximately 2.7 miles in imperial measurement) bounced once before rolling gently to its resting place.
The round also took a number of high-profile casualties, President’s Cup hopeful Robert Allenby (75), Stuart Apppleby (76) and 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell (77) among them.