Aussies in the hunt after first round of British Open
AUSTRALIANS Adam Scott, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Andrew Dodt and Aaron Baddeley are all within striking distance of the lead after the first round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Each fired one-under-par rounds of 69 to sit four shots behind the leaders, Americans Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar.
Former world No.1 Spieth was pleased with his round in tricky conditions, rating it a nine out of 10.
"Everything was strong," he said. "I give it a nine across the board for everything - tee balls, ball-striking, short game and putting. So things are in check."
The American trio sits one stroke ahead of England's Paul Casey and South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, with six others another shot behind.
Late birdies from Scott and Day - who drained a 10m putt on the 18th - gave them momentum heading into what is expected to be a tough round two in strong winds.
"It was kind of back and forth," Day said of his round. "It's really hard because for the most part I hit most irons going up to 15 and then you pull driver out and it feels foreign.
"I hit three poor drives, going up 15, 16, 17. Got myself out of position on all those holes, and didn't play well.
"Those are the holes where you can kind of get some back and unfortunately didn't get them back.
"But I made a good putt on 18, which was a nice way to finish."
Scott had an up-and-down round, reaching two-under early but then dropping back to even par before finishing one-under with his late birdie.
"In the 60s, first round of a major, is a good start. It could have been a couple better, sure, but you can't really look at it like that. I think it's a good, solid start," he said.
Baddeley, who has made the cut just once in seven British Opens, was hopeful of continuing his charge into the weekend.
"I took a different approach this year. I came in early, really got used to the golf course and got very comfortable going around it," he said.
"So going out today, I was quite relaxed and quite confident that I could just go out and play my game and, if I do that, I can be there on Sunday."
Major debutant Matthew Griffin was the next best Australian with an even-par 70.