Senden leads Australian Open by two shots, Rose in group tied for second

John Senden at the Australian Open
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John Senden had five top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year, and played confidently in his first round at the Australian Open.
By
PGA.com news services

Series: Other Tour

Published: Thursday, December 06, 2012 | 12:01 p.m.

SYDNEY -- John Senden shot a 6-under 66 in calm morning conditions to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Emirates Australian Open on Thursday.

Senden had eight birdies but back-to-back bogeys at The Lakes Golf Course, while Englishman Justin Rose, who birdied three of his first four holes, was level with Australians Kim Felton, Brendan Jones and Richard Green and Gareth Paddison of New Zealand after 68s.

Rose dropped his only shot of the day when he muffed a greenside flop shot on the par-4 third hole, his 12th of the round.

"I decided to try and hit the high, sexy lob -- that didn't really come off," Rose said.

Stephen Allan, Nick Flanagan and Marcus Fraser are a further shot back after posting solid 69s. Fraser also earned shot-of-the-day honors with a hole-in-one at the par-3 15th.

Veterans Peter O'Malley and Stuart Appleby are among a cluster of players at 2 under, alongside Marc Leishman and Josh Geary, who posted impressive 70s after teeing off late in the day. Defending champion Greg Chalmers carded a respectable 71.

Senden had a consistent year on the PGA Tour, making 19 cuts from 22 events, including five top-10 finishes.

"The results have shown in the past couple of years. I have been inside the top 30 and been consistent," Senden said. "I have taken those feelings and brought them home to Australia. I feel I can keep improving and keeping knocking on the door in every event I play."

Adam Scott, who practiced with a new, short putter earlier in the week, used his old broomstick-style blade on Thursday and missed a 4-foot birdie attempt on his opening hole before shooting 72.

"I would have loved to play better, but there's 54 holes to go. That's a lot of golf to play," Scott said.

Scott's current putting stroke, which he anchors to his chest, will be banned in 2016 under a proposed rule changes by golf's governing bodies.

Among the high afternoon scores in gusting winds were eight-time major champion Tom Watson, who had a 78, and 14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianling, who is likely to miss the halfway cut after an 82.

Contesting the Australian Open for the first time since winning the tournament in 1984, Watson lost six shots to par over four holes from the fifth to the eighth.

"I'm embarrassed," Watson said.