- Dane and U.S. golfer lead World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne after rounds of 66
- World Cup format changes in 2013 becoming an individual event with team component
- Home favorite Adam Scott cards a quintuple nine at par four 12th in round of 75
Denmark's Thomas Bjorn and American Kevin Streelman are tied for the lead after Thursday's opening round of the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne.
Both men fired rounds of 66 to finish on five-under par at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club to take their respective nations to the top of the team standings.
Historically, the tournament has been primarily a team event, but format changes this year have made it "an individual event with a team component," say organizers.
Individual players are competing in 72 holes of stroke play and vying for $7 million of the $8 million prize pot. The remaining $1 million will be shared between the leading teams.
Bjorn's Danish teammate Thorbjorn Olesen and Streelman's partner Matt Kuchar (who won the team event with Gary Woodland in 2011) both shot level par rounds of 71.
Portugal are currently lying second on two-under par thanks to rounds of 69 from Ricardo Santos and 71 from Jose-Filipe Lima.
"I played well today," Björn told reporters. "I got off to a bit of a not so great start when I four-putted number four and then I thought, 'well, this could be a long day', but I kept my composure and made some good birdies. I did everything well today. I drove it pretty well."
Streelman was equally content despite dropping two shots in the closing three holes.
"I was very pleased with that start. It's just an incredible golf course, I love it ... I just had a lot of fun there to be honest," Streelman said.
He and Bjorn are one shot ahead of South Korea's K.J. Choi, Welshman Stuart Manley and Scot Martin Laird.
Home favorite Jason Day shot a highly respectable 68 to take sixth place on his own.
The 26-year-old, who is mourning the loss of eight relatives in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, finished three-under par after claiming five birdies and two bogeys.
There were mixed fortunes for some of the bigger names on show at the famous old course. Masters champion Adam Scott, who won the Australian Masters at the same course last week, carded a four-over par 75 which included a quintuple-bogey nine at the par four 12th hole.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell had a day of wildly fluctuating fortunes. The former U.S. Open champion only had two pars on the opening nine which included three bogeys, a double bogey, three birdies and an eagle two at the par four ninth hole.
His erratic form continued on the back nine and he eventually closed out with a double bogey to card a one-over par 72.