MELBOURNE turned on a typical array of weather conditions to greet competitors at the Australian Masters on Thursday but four golfers handled the changing conditions better than the rest.
Steven Bowditch, Michael Wright, Stephen Allan and big hitting amateur Todd Sinnott finished at 5-under 67 after day one at the Metropolitan Golf Club in the famed Victorian sandbelt
Queenslander Wright was in the clubhouse first believing that the early conditions had suited him.
“It was brutal. In parts, there were times that it actually wasn’t that difficult on the downwind holes, but you turn around into the wind and it just becomes a beast,” said Wright. “Looking back, it actually suits me. I hit the ball really low, so it suits me to a tee.”
Playing the sandbelt for the first time since the 2012 Australian Masters, Stephen Allan’s preparations paid off.
“Last time I played in the sandbelt was the Masters two years ago, and I honestly played it like a rookie,” said Allan. “I played like I’d never been here before, so I was kind of aware of that coming in. I made a point to do a lot of like chipping practise and just get the feel of the ball releasing and running out.”
Playing in the afternoon field 2014 US PGA Tour winner Bowditch was less impressed with his performance.
“I didn’t feel like I played that great but I never really made any mistakes,” said Bowditch. “I hit some good shots early and didn’t really capitalise on them.”
Playing with America’s Boo Weekley, Bowditch was happy to get one up on his mate. “I’ve played with Boo a few times now. He’s beat me to death, so today I was going to make sure that didn’t happen.”
Bowditch who was also impressed by his other playing partner, amateur Todd Sinnott.
“He hit it so far. I haven’t seen someone hit it like that in a long time, and can play, too. He’s an impressive player. He’s going to go some places.”
The lanky 22 year old Sinnott is a member at Metropolitan GC and put his local knowledge to good use.
“My coach and I, Marty Joyce, we came up with a plan to keep the ball in play, not do anything stupid,” said Sinnott.
“As soon as you pull driver out, you can hit it in the trees,” despite at least one drive around the 340 metre mark.
“When I play with my mates, I tend to hit driver on every hole. So I had a more serious game plan today.”
Sitting a shot off the lead is Rhein Gibson (NSW) who last week qualified for the final stage of Web.com Tour School and 2013 NSW Open champion Aron Price (NSW). A further shot back again and rounding out the top-10 are Geoff Ogilvy (VIC), Peter Lonard (NSW), Kyle Stanley (USA), James Marchesani (VIC) and Josh Geary (NZ).
Defending champion Adam Scott blew out a little early but closed on 1-over for the day, and as he said at the completion of his round, just needs a decent round Friday to be back well in contention.2014 Australian Masters Leaderboard