If his rivals were relying on stealing an early break to curb Adam Scott’s Masters aspirations, that horse has already bolted.
Dual champion Scott fired an early “stress-free” seven-under 64 to steal a march on the field on a Huntingdale layout defenceless before an afternoon breeze sprung up.
But just when that was poised to represent a three-stroke buffer, red-hot Perth veteran Daniel Fox stormed home with his own 65 on the back of five straight closing birdies.
And after a late run of his own, Tasmanian veteran Mat Goggin joined Peter Wilson and Matt Stieger on 67 and a share of third.
But the day belonged to Scott, the 2012 and 2013 champion, who made the most of a good break on the 10th hole, his first, then settled into stride with a superb trap shot on the 11th before peeling off seven blemish-free birdies.
“It was pretty stress–free golf,”the Queenslander said.
“Like in all rounds, a couple of things happen. I pulled my drive off the first but it kind of went through the trees and was fairly playable, and I just pitched out to 30 feet right of the hole and two–putted when you could just roll up behind a tree and it changes the way the whole day goes.
“Those are the breaks you get. You get good ones and bad ones (and) you've got to take advantage of it.
“I hit a poor shot into the 11th and wasn't quite in my rhythm with the swing yet and made a good save.
“And it's funny how walking just to the third tee of the tournament at even par feels a lot better than walking there one over.
“There's such a thing with even par, under par and over par in the mindset of a player.
“I hit a lovely shot into 12 and the rhythm started happening and I made a nice puttf (that didn’t drop) and continued to hit good putts on the back nine.
“But I made a long one on 16 and then finally got a few more to go in around the front.
“From there, I played really nicely and very sensibly and just tried to give myself a lot of looks at it.
“I played really solid, so it's nice to see a little bit of the work I've been doing last week and early this week fall into place in a tournament situation.
“It's a dream start, and hopefully something to build on from here and try and get myself into that position late on Sunday where you want to be contending for the title.”
Living his own dream is Fox, the winner of the recent West Australian Open at Royal Fremantle.
The late-blooming 39-year-old said he was just “trying to keep the ball in play” when his short irons lit up from the 5th through the 9th holes.
“All of a sudden I hit a couple of really good shots into the par five and the short par-four … and then made a 40-foot bomb on the last for the icing on the cake,” said Fox before contemplating his proximity to the former world No.1 on the leaderboard.
“This is a big event for me. I’ve played a few Masters and Opens, but never managed to have a position like this in the second round, in any round for that matter.
“Tomorrow it will be different to what is it right now … but I’ll just warm up and do what I’ve been doing all year.”
Fox attributed his good form to a few off-course changes, including banning alcohol from Tuesday of tournament weeks.
“(It’s mainly) stretches and just drinking water … and I’ve noticed my anxiety levels are down and I don’t have a lot of peaks and valleys that I used to have.”
Pre-tournament fancies Steve Bowditch and Nicolas Colsaerts were the chief casualties on day one, firing rounds of 77 and 75, respectively to effectively slide from contention.
Leading amateurs after day one were boom American Bryson DeChambeau and Wodonga’s Zach Murray on 69, tied 8th overall.