Conor Purcell lies 10th as Micheluzzi leads Australian Open

Pre-tournament favourite Cameron Smith got off to a slow start.
Conor Purcell lies 10th as Micheluzzi leads Australian Open

MELBOURNE: David Micheluzzi of Australia lines up a putt during Day 1 of the 2022 ISPS HANDA Australian Open at Victoria Golf Club on December 01, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

David Micheluzzi holds a three-shot lead after the opening round of the ISPS Handa Australian Open as pre-tournament favourite Cameron Smith got off to a slow start.

The tournament sees men, women and golfers with disabilities competing on the same course at the same time, with Victoria Golf Club the primary venue across all four days and Kingston Heath hosting play on Thursday and Friday.

Micheluzzi carded eight birdies and a solitary bogey at Victoria Golf Club for a course record-equalling 63, with Matthew Griffin and Josh Geary his nearest challengers on four under.

Ireland's Conor Purcell had a 68 to lie in a share of 10th.

The former world number two amateur endured a difficult start to life on tour due to performance anxiety, but recently claimed his maiden professional win and was sixth behind Smith in the Australian PGA on Sunday.

"I think when I turned pro it was scary," Micheluzzi admitted. "It was the first time I've actually been scared on a golf course, scared of where I'm going to hit it and if I'm going to hit it in the trees or in the bunker.

"I was worried about what everyone else thought rather than just playing golf. I think the more experience, the better. I think I've played enough pro events now that it's just another round of golf.

"If I shoot 75, 76 I still go home, mum tells me to unload the dishwasher, all that kind of stuff. It just feels like a normal round of golf now, which is great. But three years ago, when I turned pro I was so uncomfortable and it showed - the golf was horrendous."

Open champion Smith lies eight shots off the lead after struggling to a one-over-par 71 at Victoria GC.

In the women's event, Australia's Grace Kim carded a course-record 66 at Kingston Heath to lead on seven under, two ahead of compatriot Hannah Green and South Korea's Jiyai Shin.

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