Sydney, November 27 - American Jordan Spieth stamped his star quality on the Emirates Australian Open today after taking the first round lead with a four-under-par 67.
Playing in his first tournament Down Under the 21-year-old put together a solid round in difficult windy conditions at The Australian Golf Club.
Australians Aron Price and Scott Gardiner returned 68s in an event jointly-sanctioned by OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia.
World number one and defending champion Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland fired a 69 along with Australians Adam Crawford, Richard Green, Andrew Tampion, Geoff Drakeford, and Brendon De Jonge from Zimbabwe.
Indonesian Rory Hie completed his round in 72 strokes and is currently in a share of 32nd place on the leaderboard, only two strokes back from 'the other Rory'.
Australian Adam Scott, runner-up last year and the champion in 2009, had a poor day and came in with a 74.
“Growing up I always wanted to come and play in Australia. It really was fun today,” said Spieth.
The Texan, paired with Scott and Australian Nick Cullen, toured the outward nine in one-under with two birdies and one dropped shot.
On the homeward stretch he charged up the leader board with three birdies on the trot from the 14th to go to five under. However, he bogeyed the penultimate hole.
Spieth turned professional in 2012 after a stellar amateur career that saw him ranked number one in the world.
The following season he burst onto the professional scene by winning the John Deere Classic to become the fourth youngest PGA Tour winner and the first teenager in 82 years.
This year he has cemented his position as one of the most exciting young players in the game by claiming second place in the US Masters while also making a fine debut in the Ryder Cup.
Price, who spent most of his career playing in the United States, led for much of the day before Spieth took over at the top. He recently welcomed his first child into the world.
“Yeah, it’s taught me a little bit about my golf, just with patience. You think you lose patience out here and trying to stop a little baby crying who’s crying for no reason, it sort of puts perspective on hitting a shot left or right or whatever,” said Price.
McIlroy began his round on the 10th and made the turn in one under. Three birdies on the next nine, including one on the last, and a bogey saw him finish in a strong position.
He said: “I didn't really get much going, I made a lot of pars. The conditions were pretty tricky. It was tough to get the ball close to the pins with the wind and these greens being quite firm as well.”
Having flown in from Dubai on Monday and up early this morning at 4.30 he said he struggled with jet lag today.
“Ball striking wasn't really there. Again, I played okay, I gave myself plenty of chances early on but I just know I can play better, so I feel if I’m on my game, I can get it going and shoot something in the low to mid 60s,” he added.
Leading first round scores (Par 71):
Australian unless stated.
67 – Jordan Spieth (US)
68 – Aron Price, Scott Gardiner
69 – Rory McIlroy (NIR), Adam Crawford, Richard Green, Andrew Tampion, Geoff Drakeford, Brendon De Jonge (ZIM), Achi Sato (JPN)
70 – Brett Rumford, Bryden Macpherson, Antonio Murdaca, Patrick Rodgers (US), Rohan Blizzard, Conrad Shindler (US), Steven Bowditch, David McKenzie, Michael Hendry (NZ), Rhein Gibson, Lincoln Tighe
72 – Rory Hie (INA)