Jarryd Felton had the best of the afternoon in the Australian camp, signing for a three under 67 at a calm Clearwater Bay and Country Club.
The West Aussie is five shots back of leader Jin Cheng of China, who obliterated the course record with an 8-under 62.
But Felton isn’t disappointed with his T15 position, saying pre-tournament that 67 was near the top of his expectations this week.
The Golf Australia national squad member started well with birdies on the second and fourth holes, and sealed a solid opening round score with a birdie on the 18th.
“I played well today. It was really good for the confidence going out there and having a solid front nine, and carrying that through to the back nine,” said Felton.
“I was hitting a lot of fairways, it was just a few bad ones that led to bogeys — but you’ve got to expect that around here, it’s not easy around the greens.”
Something that wasn’t to Felton’s expectations was the performance of leader Cheng, and second placed Nick Vokes of New Zealand.
The Auckland resident was 6-under par through 17 holes when bad light stopped play. If he can eagle the makeable 18th hole in the morning, the Kiwi will tie Cheng’s mark of 62.
“I think most of the boys said anywhere around the five under mark would be outrageous, and Jin Cheng goes out and shoots 62,” said Felton.
“Obviously this means a really good score is out there, especially when there’s no wind, so I’m going to try and do something tomorrow morning and try and match it.”
Alongside Felton in the afternoon rounds were Aussies Lucas Herbert and defending champion Anthony Murdaca, who both came in with 1-under round of 69.
Despite being seven back, Herbert wasn’t too displeased to sign for a 69.
“Considering how I played today, I’m really pleased. I put myself in some bad situations and scrambled really well.”
Antonio Murdaca had a love-hate relationship with the cart path in his round.
On the second hole, his drive took an unfortunate bounce off the path and into a very thick scrub. Even with the ball located to within about 5m by a bystander, there was no way of finding it.
On the 18th that bad luck was repayed, when Murdaca pulled his drive way left. Instead of losing his ball in the jungle below, it carried the corner, flying off the part to leave him with an 80m approach into the par-5, turning a potential double bogey into a birdie.
From the day, Travis Smyth's 4-under morning round is the best of the Australians.
Felton is a shot further back with Ryan Ruffels, Cameron Davis, Murdaca and Herbert all on 1-under par.
The scoreboard may make sorry reading for those hoping so see an Australian earn a Masters invite, but the Australian crew is buoyant, hoping that some wild weather will throw a spanner in the works this weekend.
“The wind, I think, is going to come into play on the weekend.,” said Felton
“It’s going to be a key factor, and I like it when it’s tough — I feel like I can grind well to a good score.”