Lyle shoots 65 at Australian Open
SYDNEY (AP) – Dustin Johnson led a small group of Americans who got off to a good start Thursday in the Australian Open as their tuneup for the Presidents Cup.
One of their better scores belonged to someone who won’t even be playing in matches – U.S. captain Fred Couples.
Jarrod Lyle of Australia had a 7-under 65 and to take the lead among the early starters at The Lakes. He had a one-shot lead over Johnson, who overcame a sloppy start by running off five straight birdies on the back nine.
“I was a little rusty,” Johnson said. “It was my first time in competition for about six weeks.”
Couples, who played the 50-and-old Champion Tour’s final event last week in San Francisco, played in the group behind Johnson and birdied his final hole at the par-3 ninth for a 67.
Greg Norman, the International captain next week at Royal Melbourne, had a 71. Norman won his first Australian Open at The Lakes in 1980 – before five players on his team were even born.
Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy had a 70.
Tiger Woods was among the late starters on a day that featured rain in the morning and the threat of more bad weather in the afternoon. He was playing one group ahead of Adam Scott and ex-caddie Steve Williams, who last week used a racial slur to make disparaging comments about his former boss.
This is the two-year anniversary of Woods’ last professional win, which came down in Melbourne at the 2009 Australian Masters.
Johnson arrived Sunday and has been playing a little bit each day to help shake off the rust and get acclimated to being in another part of the world. Johnson hit driver and sand wedge on the uphill, 447-yard 12th hole to tap-in range, hit a lob wedge to a foot for birdie on the next hole, then recovered from a poor tee shot by hitting 7-iron from the bunker to 10 feet on the par-5 14th, having to settle for a two-putt birdie.