Englishman Nick Dougherty may have fired a brilliant 65 on day one of the co-sanctioned Mastercard Australian Masters at Huntingdale, but it was not good enough for the clubhouse lead with Australian amateur Aaron Pike equalling the course record with an eight-under 64.
Another unheralded Australian, part-time hobby farmer Peter Wilson, joined Dougherty at seven-under, while world Number 109, Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin, bogeyed his last hole (the ninth) before signing off on a 66.
Englishman Justin Rose has begun well in the sunny afternoon conditions, after a cool, overcast morning aided scoring, rocketing to four-under after 11 holes.
Rose is joined on that score by former champions Craig Parry and Peter Lonard, two-time Australian Open winner Aaron Baddeley, Steven Bowditch and Tony Carolan (all in the clubhouse with 68s).
Defending champion Robert Allenby, Australian Open winner John Senden and Gavin Flint fired 69s, while Richard Green has continued on from his good form at the Australian Open by moving to the same score after eight.
The solidly-built Pike, 21, got his MasterCard Masters off to a flyer by eagling the par-five 10th before adding a birdie at the long par-five 14th en route to an outward 33.
He then picked up a shot at the short par-four second and consolidated with pars at the next three holes before unleashing a withering run of four birdies to come home in 31 and equal Nick O’Hern’s record score from last year’s MasterCard Masters.
Dougherty’s round could have been even better, with the Englishman failing to pick up a stroke on the short par-five 10th and making bogeys on a pair of par-threes – the 15th and third holes.
“I played lovely, I really did. I drove the ball fantastic, my iron play was world-class – it really was today,” Dougherty said.
“I didn’t putt great but I made a couple of good ones on my back nine, so all-in-all, I’m very pleased.”
Another Englishman, Andrew Butterfield, picked up three birdies offset by a solitary bogey at the par-four fourth to stay in contention at two-under.
Denny Lucas, who was at one point in a share of the lead when he holed his second shot at the par-four 13th (he had earlier eagled the 10th) to go four-under, dropped back to one-under by round’s end.
He is joined by world Number 15 Paul Casey who registered an indifferent 71 comprising 15 pars, two birdies at six and 14 and an untimely bogey at his last hole. Fellow Englishmen Simon Khan and Graeme Storm are also in with 71s.
Kiwi Michael Campbell, playing with Rose, is even-par after 12, while pre-tournament favourite Stuart Appleby shot a disappointing 75 despite a birdie on his last hole (the ninth).