Defending champ's legs turn to jelly at Australian Open
DROPPING seven shots in his first three holes was not how Cameron Davis imagined his Australian Open title defence beginning.
But the nerves of being announced as "defending champion" on the first tee at The Lakes Golf Club got the better of the Sydney youngster as he began quadruple-bogey, double-bogey, bogey.
"As soon as I heard my name on the on the first my legs were jelly," Davis said.
"I was actually fine until they called out my name and the crowd started cheering.
"I probably tried to swing too hard."
But showing true grit, Davis gathered himself and rode a wave of steady pars before rattling off four straight birdies from the eighth hole and, save for a bogey at the 15th, he salvaged some dignity to sign for a four-over-par 76.
The 23-year-old Davis sits a distant nine shots back of first-round leader Byeong Hun An (67), who has a one-shot buffer over locals Matt Jager and amateur David Micheluzzi (both 68).
"It could have been such a bad round - I hung in there well," Davis said.
"I'm still disappointed. I wanted to have a really good round today but it's a lot better than it could have been.
"After the third (hole) I started hitting greens and that was all it really took to settle me.
"I knew I had birdie opportunities on the back nine, regardless of how hard the wind was blowing."
Although well behind the leader, Davis refused to rule himself out of winning the Open.
"Other than that start I played a pretty good round of golf - I know it's still there," Davis said.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge. People have had (poor starts) before and still won golf tournaments.
"The only way I'm going to win is by not thinking about (today) and letting it happen.
"If I shoot a really good score for three days you never know what could happen."
SNAPSHOT OF THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN FIRST ROUND AT THE LAKES
LEADERBOARD: Byeong Hun An (67); Matt Jager, amateur David Micheluzzi (68); Abraham Ancer, Adam Stephens, Marcus Fraser, Dimi Papadatos, Blake Proverbs, Cameron Percy (all 69).
PLAYER OF THE ROUND: An - aided by an eagle on his penultimate hole, the South Korean US PGA Tour star snared the lead with a five-under-par 67.
SHOT OF THE ROUND: Reigning US Amateur champion Viktor Hovland, from Norway, fired a long-range second shot into the par-five 11th and tapped in for eagle.
STAT OF THE ROUND: Three players - Antonio Murdaca, Matthew Giles and Adam Blyth - all racked up 10s on one hole, a horror display that officials could never recall happening before.
QUOTE OF THE ROUND: "Mate, (I'm) just an Uber driver. Just to get mortgage going and a bit of income in." - world No.1939 Adam Stephens after surprising all with his three-under 69 start that earned him a share of fourth place.
TOURNAMENT SUMMARY: An braved 35km/h winds during a sizzling 67 in the morning before heavy rains lashed the afternoon groups. Matt Kuchar showed his class with a two-under 70 in the afternoon, while casualties included the highest-ranked Australian Cameron Smith (74), Brandt Snedeker (73) and defending champion Cameron Davis (76).