By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World number two Adam Scott gritted his teeth in foul conditions for golf on Thursday, scratching out a one-over 73 in the first round of the Australian Masters to be six strokes behind clubhouse leaders Michael Wright and Stephen Allan.
Bidding for an unprecedented third successive title in the A$1 million ($860,000) event, Scott fumed as hot, northerly winds turned Melbourne's Metropolitan Golf Club into a suburban dust-bowl, while his putter refused to cooperate.
Starting on the 10th early with the wind at its worst, Scott went to the turn at three-over after a double-bogey on the 18th, but clawed back an eagle on the par-five sixth and trudged off the sandbelt course with a mixture of relief and frustration.
"If the conditions are the same (tomorrow), just everyone's out there just hanging on doing the best they can," last year's U.S. Masters champion told reporters by the scoring hut.
"There's no way to attack in this wind.
"I thought I did a good job overall getting on the greens, but I just didn't take my chances when I had them."
Scott's struggles gave the lesser lights of Australian golf a chance to shine. Wright, a 40-year-old Queensland journeyman, rolled in six birdies for a five-under 67 and begged for more of the same "brutal" conditions.
"I'd liken it to the wild west ... If it blows like this, the greens are going to be that hard and fast.
"But at the same time, that's Australian golf and that's why it's so good."
Most of the early groups may have begged to differ, as approach shots cannoned off greens and dust-clouds flew up into players' faces.
A croaky-sounding Geoff Ogilvy kept in touch, shooting a solid three-under.
"With the sand and stuff flying around, everyone is going to be a bit messed up today, getting stuff in the eyes and nose," said the 2006 U.S. Open champion.
"It's a welcome to Melbourne, really."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)