Aussies Scott, Leishman (74) off to tough start

The host nation and pseudo-defending champions “had no momentum going” Thursday at the World Cup of Golf.

Australia’s Adam Scott and Marc Leishman find themselves five off the early lead following a frustrating round of 2-over 74.

Stiff winds made for challenging conditions at Kingston Heath, as only one team, Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello and Jon Rahm, managed to break 70 in Round 1’s alternate-shot format.

Scott and Leishman got off to a bumpy start, going out in 2-over 37, and failed to make up ground on the back.

“No it’s not exactly what we hoped for, but it was a tough day. We’re only [five] back at this point, so we’ve got to come out and make some birdies tomorrow,” said Scott, who won this event with Jason Day in 2013 at Royal Melbourne. “Hopefully, that’s going to be easier in better ball. We had no momentum going, only one birdie today, so we just grounded around.” 

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Scott played three key shots on the back nine to keep the Aussies’ round from getting any worse, nestling a greenside bunker shot to tap-in range on 10, sinking a lengthy putt to save par at 12, and rolling in the team’s only birdie of the day at 15 after a quality approach from his partner.

The Aussies likely should have circled the 13th hole after Scott played an approach to about 5 feet, but Leishman’s putt went by without hitting any of the hole.

They went on to give back their only birdie of the day at 18, when they failed to get up and down from a greenside collection area.

“We had a few issues out there, some key putts we didn’t make, but like Scotty said, we’re only [five] back, so a good one tomorrow in fourball, and we’ll see where that puts us tomorrow afternoon,” Leishman added.