Defending champion Adam Scott struggled in the blustery conditions at Metropolitan Golf Club on Thursday as he carded an opening-round 73 to leave him six strokes off the lead in the Australian Masters.
The 34-year-old Australian, who won last year’s US Masters, is aiming to make it three successive victories at this tournament.
The event is led by a four-strong Australian group, comprised of Michael Wright, Stephen Allan, Steven Bowditch and amateur Todd Sinnott, who all shot 67s.
Bowditch would have led outright but for a bogey on his final hole.
Australians Rhein Gibson and Aaron Price were a stroke further adrift on four-under after shooting 68s.
Geoff Ogilvy scored 69 and was in a group tied for seventh with Kyle Stanley, while the latter’s fellow Americans Zac Blair (70) and Boo Weekley (72) were just behind them.
Scott began his round on the back nine, bogeying the 15th and dropping two shots at the 18th before an eagle on the par-5 sixth repaired some of the damage.
"A strong northerly (wind) from the get-go was always going to make it tough," Scott said.
"I played pretty well but didn't take any of my chances. I'm a little behind the eight-ball at the moment but it's nothing a good round tomorrow won't fix."          
Ogilvy, who grew up in Melbourne, said he was prepared for a challenging day.
"That's about as tough as Melbourne can provide weather-wise," he said.
"The early tee time, you see the forecast last night, northerly, you're like hopefully it doesn't start picking up and we get a few holes without it coming, but it was windy from the first hole.
“But I hit the ball better and better as the day went on."
Bowditch, who celebrated his maiden U.S. Tour win at the Texas Open in March, rolled in four birdies and an eagle in mostly foul conditions at Metropolitan Golf Club before ruing a missed tap-in putt on the 18th that cost him the outright lead.
"I don't know what I did on 18," said Bowditch. "It was tough off and on. It got really windy early, then slowed down, windy (again), changed direction.
"It can get tough out there." 

Par 72 
Players from Australia unless stated
67 Michael Wright, Stephen Allan, Todd Sinnott (am), Steve Bowditch
68 Rhein Gibson, Aron Price
70 Robert Allenby (T12)
72 Craig Parry (T23)
73 Adam Scott (T51)