Senden ahead on day one at Aussie Open

The English gladiator sent over to try and take the Masters Championship was Ian Poulter. This week it is Justin Rose who will pit his strength against the local contenders at the Australian Open Championship.

Scott saw off the English challenge in Melbourne. On today’s form, it could be John Senden’s turn this week at the Lakes in Sydney.

John Senden John Senden (Credit: Anthony Powter)

The 2006 Australian Open champion made a strong start in today’s opening round with a 6-under-par, 66.

It sees Senden with a two stroke buffer ahead of four players, including Rose, Kim Felton, Brendan Jones, Gareth Paddison and Richard Green who carded rounds of 68.

Senden teed off early with Matthew Goggin and Geoff Ogilvy. The early calm conditions played to his advantage and the top-five on the leaderboard were unchanged from early afternoon .

Senden’s playing partners, however, could not capitalise on the early start. Ogilvy, the 2011 champion, carded a 2-over, 74, in a round that included two double bogeys.

Goggin’s respectable 1-under included an eagle at the par 5, 17th courtesy of a later tailwind.

Defending champion Greg Chalmers handled the wind well, finishing 1-under par with a clutch of birdies and bogies.

Tom Watson, his playing partner, will be looking to improve on his 6-over if he is to make the weekend.

Watson clawed his way back with three birdies only to find another three bogeys in his last four holes.

Adam Scott ended the day tied 28th on even par in a round that saw three bogeys matched by three birdies.

Rose is certainly in the hunt.

Despite his continent-hopping schedule and a long absence from Australia, he looked confident and at ease during the challenging closing holes at The Lakes.

Rose was not phased by the wind at the Lakes.

“That’s what I love about links golf and that’s what’s so great about golf over here”, he said.

“You have to hit shots, control your trajectory and shape it into the wind. It’s a lot of fun to play this type of golf.”

In contrast to Rose’s hectic program, Senden is keeping life balanced. He chose not to play the Masters, preferring to spend time at his US base in Dallas.

Returning to Australia, he has made space to work with his coach Steve Triggs, and play his home club, Keperra, with his 8-year-old son.

One of the lunchtime starters to do well was Marc Leishman, who closed his round on 2 under. Leishman is the only Australian to win on the PGA Tour this year.

Peter O’Malley continues to show form after his good result at the NZ Open. He is tied 10th on 2 under while stalwart Peter Lonard is on one under.

Past winner of the Australian Masters and PGA, Peter Senior, is 3-over. His early tee time on Friday will help get him inside the cut line.

Some of the promising young amateurs got a dose of reality with the challenges The Lakes can provide, particularly over it’s closing stretch.

Guan, the 14-year-old winner of the Asian Amateur, managed a 10 over par.

He tees up in the US at the Masters next year and would be looking to establish some creditability before then.

Oliver Goss, the winner of the Western Australian Open, shot 6-over in his opening round.

The best of the amateurs was the consistent Cameron Smith on even par to be in a tie for 28th.

Three rookies in the field, graduates of the Golf Australia National Squad, held their own: Dan Nisbet on even par, Matt Stieger, the 2012 NSW PGA winner is at 1-over with Jake Higginbottom, the 2012 NZ Open winner, at two over par.

We are set for an absorbing day’s golf at The Lakes tomorrow.

The pressure will be on Scott and Ogilvy to meet expectations. Rose, well he continues to prove why he’s inside the top-5 in the world and will certainly take some stopping.