SYDNEY – Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott struggled to even-par 71s in the hot, windy opening round of the Australian Open on Thursday, leaving the top two-ranked players in the tournament five strokes behind little-known leader Lincoln Tighe.
Spieth and Scott, tied for 19th with 11 others, were in good company. Australia’s Tighe, with seven birdies and two bogeys, had a one-stroke lead after his 66, one of only 18 in the 156-player field who broke par at The Australian Golf Club.
Australia’s Matt Jones, who is a member at The Australian, birdied the par-5 18th for a 67 and was in second place.
Geoff Ogilvy, the 2010 champion who was playing in the same group as Spieth, was two strokes behind after a 68, tied for third with fellow Australian Todd Sinnott and 17-year-old Taiwanese amateur Yu Chun-an.
“Maybe I’ve played here a lot, so I’ve got a little more local knowledge,” Jones said. ‘I actually enjoy playing in wind most of the time, I play well in it.”
The top-ranked Spieth birdied his opening hole and bogeyed his last to go along with birdies on a pair of par-5s and bogeys on two par-3s.
Scott, who hasn’t had a season without a victory since 2001 and is thus far winless this year, had two double-bogeys in three holes but came back with a birdie on the last to match Spieth.
“To have something this windy, it’s been a while,” Spieth said. “The toughest part is when you have the crosswinds and you’ve got to pick what shot to play, because you can use the same club and it can go 30 yards’ difference in the air.”
It could have been worse for Scott – he chipped in from off the green on the ninth for his second double-bogey.
“I walked to the 10th tee kind of with my head held high after making a double, and that’s a good feeling,” he said.
Lee Westwood, the 1997 Australian Open champion, shot 70, as did U.S. Amateur and 2015 NCAA champion Bryson DeChambeau.
The northwest winds of about 40 kilometers per hour (25 mph) shifted to the south late in the day, causing more havoc for the afternoon groups. The high temperature reached 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit).
Spieth, who shot a course-record, final-round 63 in similarly tough conditions here last year, was also plagued by poor tee shots Thursday.
“I hit two fairways on the back nine, so when you’re playing out of rough or bunkers, it’s hard to control,” he said. “Conditions were tough but I still could have found the fairways.”
The long-hitting Tighe has advanced to the Dec. 10-13 final stage of the Web.com Tour qualifying tournament in Florida, meaning he won’t defend his New South Wales PGA championship that is being held on the same weekend.
“I’m not surprised to be here,” Tighe said. “The course suits me down to the ground, I can carry a lot of the bunkers. I’m just getting more and more comfortable playing in the bigger tournaments.”
Ogilvy, who has missed five cuts in a row since the U.S. Open, said he putted well thanks to the state of the greens.
“They were incredible, it feels like you’re the first group out there on any hole,” he said. “There’s no evidence that anyone else has walked on them.”
Champions Tour regular Peter Senior, who won last week’s Australian Masters at Huntingdale in Melbourne, shot 80.