Queenslander Matthew Guyatt upstaged his more fancied rivals to claim the outright lead after the opening day of the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath on Thursday, but tournament drawcards Adam Scott and Ian Poulter are just two shots back. Guyatt opened up his advantage after posting a superb seven-under 65 in his first competitive hit-out at Melbourne&aposs sandbelt layout, with Scott and Poulter sharing second place with Kiwi Michael Hendry on five under after solid opening rounds. There is a group of six players – led by Australian duo Peter O&aposMalley and Paul Gow – a further shot adrift at four under, while Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell could only manage a 71 to be tied for 20th. But the day belonged to Guyatt, who had a hot putter throughout his round and only narrowly missed the course record of 64 held jointly by Anthony Painter (1994), Robert Allenby (2000) and Kurt Barnes (2010) by one shot. The 37-year-old strung together a trio of birdies in his opening nine to make the turn at minus three and then picked up another shot at the easy par-five first – his 10th – to move within one stroke of Scott in the clubhouse lead. Guyatt then made another three consecutive birdies to take the outright lead, with the pick of those being at 8th, where he rolled in a putt from over 20 feet to move to seven under. Scott was out bright and early on Thursday morning and managed to make six birdies – including five in seven holes on his second nine – and dropped just the one shot in his round of 67. It was a case of what could have been for Scott, with the 32-year-old excellent from tee to green, but often let down at the final hurdle by his renowned broomstick putter. The same can arguably be said for Poulter, with the Englishman looking just at home at Kingston Heath as he did when he won at the Victoria Golf Club last year. Poulter picked up six birdies on the sandbelt course, with a dropped shot at the par-four 16th the only blemish on his card as he attempts to become just the second man after Greg Norman to defend his Masters title. McDowell seemingly couldn&apost get anything going during his round, with the world No.24 able to make just two birdies in good scoring conditions during the morning. Stuart Appleby (one under), Richard Green (one under), Craig Parry (one under), Robert Allenby (even), Alistair Presnell (one over) and Peter Senior (two over) also started slowly, with the Australians struggling with the pace of the Kingston Heath greens on a day that saw Guyatt steal the show.
Author: Jonathan Healy at Kingston Heath, Omnisport