Sydney — Jordan Spieth birdied his opening hole and bogeyed his last during an even-par 71 Thursday that saw the defending champion trail early leader Lincoln Tighe by five strokes on a blustery, hot day at the Australian Open.
In scorching hot, windy conditions, Spieth started on the 10th hole with a birdie, bogeyed a par-3 on each nine and finished with a 5 on the par-4 ninth at The Australian Golf Club.
Australia’s Tighe, with seven birdies and a bogey, was the clubhouse leader with a 66.
The northwest winds of about 40 kilometers per hour (25 mph) were expected to shift to the south later in the day and cause more havoc for the afternoon groups. The highs were about 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).
“To have something this windy, it’s been a while,” Spieth said. “The toughest part is when you have the crosswinds and you’ve got to pick what shot to play, because you can use the same club and it can go 30 yards’ difference in the air.”
Spieth, who shot a course-record, final-round 63 in tough conditions in Australia last year, also was plagued by poor tee shots Thursday.
“I hit two fairways on the back nine, so when you’re playing out of rough or bunkers, it’s hard to control,” he said. “Conditions were tough but I still could have found the fairways.”
Geoff Ogilvy, the 2010 champion who was playing in the same group as Spieth and Lee Westwood, was two strokes behind after a 68. He was tied for second with Taiwan’s Yu Chun-an.
Westwood, a former Australian Open champion, shot a 70, as did U.S. Amateur and 2015 NCAA champion Bryson DeChambeau.
Adam Scott played in the afternoon. The Australian hasn’t had a season without a victory since 2001, but is thus far winless this year.
The long-hitting Tighe has advanced to the Dec. 10-13 final stage of the Web.com Tour qualifying tournament in Florida, meaning he won’t defend his New South Wales PGA championship that is being held on the same weekend.
“I’m not surprised to be here,” Tighe said. “The course suits me down to the ground; I can carry a lot of the bunkers. I’m just getting more and more comfortable playing in the bigger tournaments.”
Ogilvy, who has missed five cuts in a row since the U.S. Open, said he putted well thanks to the state of the greens.
“They were incredible, it feels like you’re the first group out there on any hole,” he said. “There’s no evidence that anyone else has walked on them.”
Ogilvy, who started on the 10th, recovered nicely from a bogey on the 17th and a double-bogey on the par-5 18th, both times from unlucky bounces off trees. But he finished with a bogey when he hit into the water on the ninth.
“It’s a shame about the last hole. I didn’t really think I hit a bad shot,” Ogilvy said. “A lot of people are going to spin back into the water there. Especially when it gets the southerly (winds) this afternoon.”
The winds made scoring particularly difficult on the par-3 second hole from an elevated tee — it was the toughest hole on the course Thursday.
Only about 10 players hit the green through the first half of the field. There were only two birdies on the hole by mid-afternoon, 53 pars, 46 bogeys and seven double bogeys.
Ogilvy nearly holed out with his tee shot and made par, while Spieth hit his approach in the left bunker and made a 3-foot par putt.
Champions Tour regular Peter Senior, who won last week’s Australian Masters at Huntingdale in Melbourne, shot 80.