Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Bryan Keane/INPHO Conor Purcell [file photo].
# day 1
Smith struggles as Ireland's Conor Purcell sits in share of 10th at Australian Open
Cameron Smith was left frustrated after a difficult day in which he finished one-over par with four bogeys.

WORLD NUMBER THREE Cameron Smith struggled on Thursday in the opening round of the Australian Open, falling behind course record-setting leader David Micheluzzi, while Grace Kim led the women’s tournament in Melbourne.

Ireland’s Conor Purcell sits in a share of 10th place after carding a two-under 68. The 2019 Australian Amateur champion picked up three birdies in his opening round, along with a bogey on the 16th to keep in a group of 12 other players in 10th spot on the leaderboard.

British Open champion Smith was left frustrated after a difficult day in which he finished one-over par with four bogeys, leaving him tied for 64th.

Smith, who won the Australian PGA Championship last weekend, is playing in his first Australian Open in three years, and will need to improve at Kingston Heath on Friday to make the halfway cut.

“I thought it was all pretty rubbish to be honest,” Smith said. “That’s as bad as I’ve played in a long time.

“The course was pretty difficult, the conditions were pretty difficult, but still I need to be better than that.”

Local professional Micheluzzi set the benchmark, firing seven-under and course record 63 to lead by three shots from fellow Australian Matthew Griffin.

Micheluzzi opened his round with a bogey on the 10th, but then reeled off eight birdies to march four shots clear at one stage.

World number 36 Adam Scott was all over the place with seven birdies mixed with four bogeys and even a double-bogey in his one-under 71.

Grace Kim equalled the women’s course record at Kingston Heath with a seven-under 66.

Kim blazed five birdies in her opening five holes on her way to lead the women’s tournament, while Australia’s world number four Minjee Lee opened with a two-under 70 to be joint ninth.

Little more than 12 months after turning professional, Kim is headed for the LPGA Tour in 2023 after earning a maiden win on the Epson Tour and finishing fifth on the money list.

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Minjee Lee had an eagle and two birdies in her round.

The men’s and women’s Australian Open are taking place at the same time and place as part of an effort to widen the appeal of golf.

The Victoria Golf Club is the main venue across all four days with Kingston Heath hosting play on the opening two days.

– © AFP 2022

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