*

upload_article_image

Amateurs lead Australian Open after 1st round

World No. 1-ranked amateur Takumi Kanaya birdied his final two holes Thursday for a 6-under 65 and a tie for the first-round lead with fellow Asian amateur Chun An-you of Taiwan.

Playing the back nine at The Australian Golf Course to open his round, the Japanese player had five birdies. He bogeyed the par-4 third hole before making birdie on the eighth and ninth holes.

The leaders had a two-stroke lead over 2015 champion Matt Jones and fellow Australians Dimi Papadatos and Daniel Nisbet.

South Korea's K.J. Choi hits his second shot on the 6th hole during the opening round of the Australian Open golf tournament in Sydney, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoRick Rycroft)

A winner last month in his homeland, 21-year-old Kanaya's round came four years after he signed for an 85 at The Australian while on his Open debut at the same venue.

“I have a little confidence, but I have three more days, so I will do my best tomorrow," Kanaya said.

Jones complained of burning eyes from the smoke blowing in from surrounding bushfires in New South Wales state.

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen plays from a bunker on the 5th hole during the opening round of the Australian Open golf tournament in Sydney, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoRick Rycroft)

‘’It’s awful,’” Jones saíd. “The smoke's not good at all. It's tough to see your golf ball when you're out there playing, where it finishes. Your eyes do burn up. I hope my kids are inside in the hotel room."

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

South Korea's K.J. Choi hits from the 4th tee during the opening round of the Australian Open golf tournament in Sydney, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoRick Rycroft)

South Africa's Ernie Els, left, sprays water from a bottle as he and South Korea's K.J. Choi chat while waiting to hit on the 6th hole during the opening round of the Australian Open golf tournament in Sydney, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoRick Rycroft)

Britain's Paul Casey, top right, chips from the edge of the 11th green during the opening round of the Australian Open golf tournament in Sydney, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoRick Rycroft)

South Africa's Ernie Els hits his second shot on the 6th hole during the opening round of the Australian Open golf tournament in Sydney, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP PhotoRick Rycroft)