AAP Golf

Asian amateurs share Australian Open lead

By AAP Newswire

Japanese sensation Takumi Kanaya is refusing to get ahead of himself after upstaging the star-studded Australian Open field to seize the first-round lead in smoky Sydney.

As Open favourite Adam Scott floundered in stifling afternoon smog, Kanaya, the world's top-ranked amateur, carded a stylish six-under-par 65 earlier on Thursday.

The 21-year-old shares the lead with fellow amateur Chun-An Yu after the Taiwanese flew home in five under for the back nine.

The surprise leaders enjoys a two-stroke buffer over 2015 champion Matt Jones and fellow Australians Dimi Papadatos and Daniel Nisbet.

A winner last month in his homeland, 21-year-old Kanaya's sizzling round comes four years after he signed for an 85 at The Australian while on his Open debut at the same venue.

"I have a little confidence, but I have three more days, so I will do my best tomorrow," Kanaya said after reeling off seven birdies.

Jones complained of burning eyes from the smoke blowing in from NSW's surrounding bushfires following his impressive start.

"It's awful," Jones said.

"The smoke's not good at all. It's tough to see your golf ball when you're out there playing, where it finishes. Your eyes do burn up.

"I've got that cough like you've got something in your lungs, phlegm in your lungs or whatever, but yeah it's not fun.

"I hope my kids are inside in the hotel room."

Continuing his affinity with The Australian Golf Club, where he's a member and also finished second in 2017 after having his name etched on the Stonehaven Cup two years before, was otherwise thrilled to be right in the mix again.

"I made a few putts for par to keep a round going. If you miss those, then my whole round is a total different ending," he said.

Fellow US PGA Tour star Cameron Smith, his Presidents Cup teammate Louis Oosthuizen and English world No.14 Paul Casey, the highest-ranked player in the field, were further stroke behind among a cluster of players at three-under.

"Basically any round in the 60s around here, given the conditions, is a really good round. I can't imagine anyone's going to go too crazy today," Smith said.

Playing alongside Smith and defending champion Abraham Ancer in the marquee morning group, Marc Leishman carded a two-under 69.

"I played pretty good, hit some really good shots and hit some stinkers but coming off a month off you probably expect that," Leishman said.

"But happy with two-under. It wasn't the ideal start. It would have been nice to shoot four or five.

"Definitely the way I played, I could have done that. But a pretty good start all in all."

Ancer could only manage a one-over 72.

But that was still better than Scott, whose 75 was his first start to an Open since 2010.