Amateur hour as Adam Scott crashes and kids shine in smog


Scott’s struggles started virtually from the outset and he never found any momentum playing alongside tournament drawcards and European Ryder Cup teammates Paul Casey (-3) and Sergio Garcia (-1).

“I was just out of sorts out there,” Scott said. “I lost my rhythm after the first hole and then really struggled on the front nine. I hit some really bad drives way left and couldn’t scramble. I didn’t play well.

At least I know kind of where it’s going now and we can chip away at this thing

Adam Scott

“It’s nice to find my feet eventually out there [on the back nine]. At least I know kind of where it’s going now and we can chip away at this thing. Maybe if I set myself a target of under par every nine for the next three days, one hot nine in there with that might get me somewhere up near the mark.”

Els, who is playing the Australian Open himself and finished at one-over for his opening round, would have been brightened by the work of Australians Cameron Smith (-3) and Marc Leishman (-2).

Veteran South African Louis Oosthuizen also tamed the choking smoke to finish at three-under.

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There were also little worries for the world’s top-ranked amateur and Japanese star Kanaya, who sizzled in his outward nine early on Thursday morning before watching the afternoon wave suffer in the oppressive conditions.

The 21-year-old won on the Japanese Tour only last month and has improved his English after making his major debut at the US Masters earlier this year.

“I watched YouTube and [tennis ace] Kei Nishikori and [soccer star] Keisuke Honda speak English very well,” Kanaya said. “I studied.

“I was 17 years old and played here in 2015 and shot 85 in the second round. So I learned the Australian course style is different to Japanese course style when I was 17 and it has given me confidence. I’ll do my best [on Friday].”

Australian Gareth Jones acts as Japan’s national team coach and said Kanaya had set himself the lofty ambition of qualifying for the host nation’s Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

World No.355 Kanaya will need to be part of the country’s top two ranked players (Shugo Imahira is No.34 behind Hideki Matsuyama) at the qualifying cut-off in June.

Sergio Garcia plays out of a bunker under a thick layer of haze over the Australian Golf Club in Sydney on Thursday.Credit:Getty

“I [only] have a little chance,” Kanaya said. “My world ranking is about 300 and if I win this championship maybe it’s more chance.”

On comparisons to being the next Hideki Matsuyama, Jones said: “He hates that reference because he’s the first Takumi. As he shows in front of the media he’s developing some real skills.

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“He’s not going to grow anymore and he doesn’t need to get to the size of Hideki, but you see him now and he’s really quite thick and strong. He’s a different body size. He really wants to speak English [too] and it’s really exciting to watch him do that.”

Yu tamed the choking afternoon conditions as seven amateurs finished the first 18 holes inside the top 20. Local young guns Jack Trent, Hayden Hopewell, Lawry Flynn and US Masters-bound Lukas Michel all fired three-under 68s.

Kanaya and Yu lead a trio of Australians at four-under, including 2015 winner and The Australian member Matt Jones, last year’s runner-up Dimi Papadatos and Daniel Nisbet.

“It might add a little bit more pressure because you’ve got to be able to perform and you’re expected to perform because it’s your own golf course,” Jones said of returning to a happy hunting ground. “So it’s never seemed to bother me because you’ve still got to hit the good shots.”

Leaderboard (after first round)

-6: Takumi Kanaya (Japan, a), Chun-An Yu (Chinese Taipei, a)

-4: Matt Jones, Dimi Papadatos, Daniel Nisbet

-3: Blake Windred, Wade Ormsby, Cameron Smith, Jason Scrivener, Jack Trent (a), Daniel Gale, Hayden Hopewell (a), Lawry Flynn (a), Min Woo Lee, Paul Casey (England), Ben Eccles, Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), Lukas Michel (a), James Marchesani, Scott Arnold

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