QUEENSLANDER Matthew Guyatt has upstaged his more fancied rivals to lead the Talisker Australian Masters after a first round 7-under 65 at the Kingston Heath Golf Club.
Guyatt sits two strokes ahead of World No. 5 Adam Scott, defending champion Ian Poulter and New Zealander Michael Hendry who share second place at 5-under par after rounds of 67.
Kalem Richardson, Craig Hancock, Rika Batibasaga, Peter O’Malley, Jake Higginbottom (leading amateur) and Paul Gow round out the top ten a further shot back.
The 37 year old Guyatt is a relative newcomer to the professional ranks and is playing only his second Masters tournament.
“I turned Pro in 1999 and played 1999/2000 but didn’t keep my card, and then I missed by one shot in Q School to get it back the following season and sort of gave it away,” Guyatt said.
“During that year off I met my wife and I’ve now got three kids and am married. It wasn’t until the start of 2005 that I decided to come back to golf.”
Despite playing back on the PGA Tour of Australasia and in Asia since 2009, and tasting his first victory at the 2011 NSW PGA Championship, surprisingly this week is the first time Guyatt has played the famed Kingston Heath layout.
“I’ve never played Kingston Heath, I need to spend more time here. I flew in early Monday morning and came here and spent the day here just chipping and putting and starting to understand the ball and how firm the greens are,” Guyatt said.
“At the moment that’s proved to be a pretty good decision.”
Finishing his round with six birdies and a bogey, Adam Scott described today as the “perfect day” to be playing Kingston Heath.
“The course’s defences were down today, there was no wind and the greens were soft and not very fast. Realistically, I felt 9 or 10 was possible for the way I played today if everything went my way,” said Scott, whose putter contributed substantially to his total.
“I made a long one on the second, it must have been over 40 feet, and I made a 35-footer probably on the 16th.”
Likewise Poulter had nothing but praise for the conditions on the sandbelt course.
“I don’t think I’ve seen afternoon conditions like we’ve had today, it was perfect,” said Poulter.
“You had to take advantage of the weather, certainly this afternoon the greens were a little softer today than they were yesterday.”
“Five under is acceptable, but it’s a golf course that you if play well and you give yourself a lot of chances than you’d expect to hole a lot of putts. The greens are perfect and, if you hit your line, it’s got a great chance to go in.”
Play in the second round of the Masters will get underway from 6.40am Friday.