Only John Senden, Robert Allenby and major novice Jason Day managed to break par on a disappointing opening day for most of Australia’s dozen hopefuls at the British Open.
Senden is five strokes behind record-setting leader Rory McIlroy after returning a four-under-par 68, while Allenby (69) and Day (71) are also still well in the hunt after enjoying the best of the weather on a rare windless morning at St Andrews.
Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and Michael Sim all posted even-par 72s and will be looking to make up lost ground when they tee off in hopefully equally benign conditions on Friday.
Senden was delighted after mixing five birdies with a lone bogey on the extended par-4 17th that, at 495 yards long, is now playing more like a par-5.
“This is my first actual tournament day at this course, so you’ve got to be happy,” Senden said.
Senden hopes he learned something from last year’s Open when he missed the cut at Turnberry after following up his day-one-best 66 with a horror second-round 80.
“It’s about keeping myself calm and doing good work with my processes and tomorrow’s a new day,” he said.
Allenby admitted the Old Course played “as easy as you’ll ever see it” on Thursday and was satisfied with his 69.
“I played good, played very good. I just didn’t make too many putts. I just left everything short,” Allenby said.
Day, who earlier this year became the youngest Australian ever to win on the US PGA Tour, was upbeat after offsetting three bogeys with four birdies in his eagerly-awaited major debut.
“lt was good, probably one of the better experiences just because it’s the home of golf,” the 22-year-old said.
“I hit it well. I just hit a lot of lips out there and unfortunately didn’t hole any putts.
“But it’s okay. I’m just looking forward to the next three days.
“Hopefully we can have some pretty bad weather. Your first British Open, you kind of expect to have bad weather and I’d like to see if my game’s up to it.”
Scott is fast losing patience after another sorry day with the putter cost him any chance of staying in touch with the leaders.
The former world No.3 had three three-putts and one four-putt if you count the use of a texas wedge from off the green.
“Same old story, I let myself down on the greens,” Scott said. “Just not good enough. With my pace putting, I just didn’t get them close enough.
“It’s been the story of the year. I just putt poorly every week. I’ve just had a gutful of it.
“I hit one average shot all day, when I missed the 13th fairway, but I play so nicely and putt so poorly. It’s frustrating.”
Ogilvy was so peeved at leaving a birdie putt short on 16 that he told his ball to F-off, then angrily departed the course immediately after signing off for his 72.
Peter Senior (73), Marc Leishman (73), Mathew Goggin (74), Kurt Barnes (75) and Cameron Percy (76) also have much work to do to make the weekend cut, while Ewen Porter shot himself out of the championship with the day’s worst score, a disastrous nine-over 81.
Porter never recovered from a quadruple eight on the short par-4 second.