SYDNEY: World No.1 and defending champion Jordan Spieth moved to within four shots of the lead at Australian Open on Friday, trailing Sydney-born Matt Jones who took full advantage of his course knowledge to go top at seven under par.
Spieth battled his way through a “frustrating” day to record a three under par 68, moving to three under par overall.
He kick-started his round with a first hole birdie, managing three other birdies but also back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th.
“The cross winds again made it a guessing game out there today, leaving a 50-50 shot and we got less than 50 per cent of them right,” said Spieth.
“It just made it so frustrating as I was striking the ball well, and it was a round I could have shot six or seven under par, and I just didn’t have any chances.”
He added: “I had a lot of shots right at the pin, like at nine and 10, and in the middle of the round I could have got something going, but managed to save myself when I got it wrong.”
Jones, the winner of the 2014 Shell Houston Open, took full advantage of his Australian Club course knowledge, also shooting a 68 to move to seven under par.
Arizona-based Jones, 35, joined the Australian Club as a 15-year old and named Greg Norman and Tiger Woods as his inspiration for pursuing the title.
“It’s been pretty cool to look at the black and white photographs of the former champions in the clubhouse and to have my name on the trophy beside all those great golfers would be amazing,” he said.
Rookie Australian-born pro Todd Sinnott shot a 70 to move into second place at four under par.
The efforts of Jones and Sinnott also have them in line to secure one of the three places for next year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon, Scotland.
Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, who is contesting his first Australian Open, is well positioned to end a three-and-a-half winless drought, posting the best round of the day, a five under par 66, to be among five players including former Australian Open winner Geoff Ogilvy (71) at three under par.
England’s Lee Westwood, who played alongside Spieth and Ogilvy, shot a 72 to be at even par and tied with close friend and European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke.
Clarke, who brought the gleaming Ryder Cup trophy to Australia for a first ever visit Down Under, bounced back from a first round 75 to grab five birdies in a four under par 67.
And hometown favourite Adam Scott failed to record a single birdie in a score of 73 for a two over par tally, but remains inside the four over cut off mark.