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Published: Thursday November 15, 2012 MYT 6:56:00 PM
MELBOURNE: Defending champion Ian Poulter and Adam Scott fired an ominous warning to their rivals Thursday, carding 67s to lurk just two shots off the lead after the first round of the Australian Masters.
Little-known Australian Matthew Guyatt was the surprise early leader, hitting a seven-under-par 65 in benign conditions at Kingston Heath in Melbourne.
Fellow Australian Adam Scott and England's Poulter, tied for second with New Zealand's Michael Hendry, were disappointed they did not take full advantage of the easy conditions despite their solid showings.
"I don't think I've ever seen afternoon conditions like we had out there today," said Ryder Cup hero Poulter, who won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China earlier this month.
"You had to take advantage of it.... Five-under is acceptable but if you play well on this golf course in conditions like we had today you'll have many birdie opportunities."
Poulter's only blemish came at the 16th hole where he said he "made a pig's ear of it" before making an up-and-down for bogey from 60 yards.
The Englishman said he would like to see blustery conditions for the rest of the tournament, adding: "This is a very tricky golf course when the wind blows and I play well in the wind."
World number five Scott, chasing his first tournament win of the year, felt he could have shot nine or 10 under but for a frustrating number of birdie putts lipping out on his front nine.
But the Australian made amends on the back nine, coming home in five-under 31.
"Kingston Heath's defences were down today and I felt there was a really low score out there for me today," he said. "I didn't get rewarded for my play on the front nine," he said.
"It's a good start but you need four good days to win," said Scott, whose year will be defined by his meltdown in this year's British Open, where he blew a four-shot lead with four holes to play at Royal Lytham.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell shot 71 and said playing partner Scott made the course look extremely easy.
"I didn't adapt very well to the conditions, but all in all, I struck the ball well although the putter could be heated up a little bit more. But it was a decent start," McDowell said.
Guyatt, who spent three years out of the game in the early 2000s, said his game had benefited from the input of sports psychologist Karl Morris, who works with a number of the game's leading players, including McDowell.
"Karl has turned me around as far as pre-shot routine and staying in the moment," he said.
A group of six Australian players were tied for fifth, including Peter O'Malley, a three-time winner on the European Tour. - AFP
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