Date: November 27, 2014
Author: Martin Blake @ The Australian GC

THE WRAP: Spieth at home at The Australian

In all the discussion and speculation about the Rory versus Adam Show, there was a world class player forgotten.

And on day one of the Emirates Australian Open, Jordan Spieth set about correcting the imbalance at The Australian.

Spieth, the 21-year-old American who was a sensation on the United States tour in 2013, carded a four-under-par 67 to lead the Open after the first round.

Meanwhile Scott had to battle all the way to the last hole for a three-over 74 after a disastrous double bogey at the first and one of his worst front nines (40) in years. McIlroy was much better, carding a two-under 69 to put himself in the mix on a day when the scoring was not low, averaging more than two shots above par on Jack Nicklaus' remodelled course.

New South Welshmen Scott Gardiner and Aron Price (69) are the closest pursuers.

Spieth, the world No. 14, had a run of three consecutive birdies from the 14th to the 16th holes to grab the lead. He hit just 10 greens in regulation but had only 29 putts, beginning with a two-metre birdie putt at the first.

"I putted great,'' he said. "It was an improvement off the last week. I didn't quite drive the ball to the standards I'd like to see. Maybe it was just an off day. When I did miss it, I was in a spot where I could still play the hole. Short game kept me in it.''

Spieth was in the top 10 in the world not so long ago, and he finished second behind Bubba Watson at the Masters tournament in April, leading to the eighth hole on the final day. He is a serious player, already noted for the way he shapes his shots with his creative side.

Already a Ryder Cupper, he is destined for a long and prosperous career.

He has benefited from the fact that he played in Japan last week, meaning that he quickly adjusted to the time zone. And he has wanted to come to Australia to play for many years; the Manly ferry is on his list of to-dos for this week, other than winning a golf tournament.

Scott had a dreadful start to his day when he pulled his second shot into a greenside trap and bladed the bunker shot right over the green at the first. A double bogey followed, and then a three-putt bogey out of nowhere at the third. His putter was ice cold, and he lipped out at least three times but worse, his driving was not to its usual standard with some misses to the right. Instructively, he headed straight to the range after his round.

"Just a bad start,'' said Scott. "I made the worst of my worst shots and didn't convert any of my good ones early, and then played okay. I'm on the back foot again from the start of this week.

"I have to play three really great days now. It seems that's what I'm doing week after week. I have to claw my way back into it tomorrow morning, get into red figures and not be too far back on the weekend.''

Spieth noted that Scott "didn't have his normal stuff'' but also that the Australian did not yield to his frustration, ultimately picking up two shots on the back nine to give himself a semblance of a respectable score. "I know that I wouldn't have handled it the same way as he did, and that's something that's part of what I need to learn,'' said the American.

McIlroy was dynamic from tee to green but missed some opportunities on the greens, going out in the morning when the southerly winds were a little more challenging. But he is just two shots from the lead and ominously poised.
Gardiner won a Lexus vehicle for his hole in one on the par-three 11th, but never saw the shot disappear into the cup. He had turned away after the ball bounced and rolled into the rough behind the green, missing the fact that it spun back on to the putting surface and trickled down the hill and in.