Senden leads Australian Open by 2 shots after 66

John Senden

John Senden

SYDNEY – John Senden shot a 6-under 66 in calm morning conditions to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Australian Open on Thursday.

Senden had eight birdies but back-to-back bogeys at The Lakes, while Englishman Justin Rose, who birdied three of his first four holes, was level with Australians Kim Felton, Brendan Jones and Richard Green and New Zealand's Gareth Paddison after 68s.

Rose dropped his only shot of the day when he muffed a greenside flop shot on the par-4 third hole, his 12th of the round.

"I decided to try and hit the high, sexy lob; that didn't really come off," Rose said.

Senden had a consistent year on the PGA Tour, making 19 cuts in 22 events, including five top-10 finishes.

"The results have shown in the past couple of years. I have been inside the top 30 and been consistent," Senden said. "I have taken those feelings and brought them home to Australia. I feel I can keep improving and keeping knocking on the door in every event I play."

Adam Scott, who practiced with a new putter earlier in the week, used his old broomstick-style blade on Thursday and missed a 4-foot birdie attempt on his opening hole before shooting 72.

"I would have loved to play better, but there's 54 holes to go. That's a lot of golf to play," Scott said.

Scott's current putting stroke, which is anchored to his chest, will be banned in 2016 under a proposed rules change by golf's governing bodies, the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A.

Among the high afternoon scores in gusting winds were eight-time major champion Tom Watson, who shot 78, and 14-year-old Chinese amateur Tianling Guan, who is likely to miss the halfway cut after an 82.

Contesting the Australian Open for the first time since winning the tournament in 1984, Watson lost six shots to par over four holes from the fifth to the eighth.

"I'm embarrassed," Watson said.

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