Smith labours on day one of the Open

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The contentious new double-cut threatens to rob the landmark Australian Open of its biggest drawcard after Cameron Smith ruefully misfired in the first round.

Smith's even-par 70 on Thursday left the superstar world No.3 some seven shots off the pace in his quest to complete the rare Open and Australian PGA Championship double.

He at least salvaged a priceless birdie at the last hole to claw his was into a tie for 39th at Victoria Golf Club.

But he's hovering only one stroke above joint 70th spot and needs to remain in the top 70 on Friday to avoid the halfway chop.

Of more concern is the introduction this year of a second cut after Saturday's third round to allow the Australian Open women's field to share the fairways with the men for the first time.

Only the top 30 players and ties in both events will feature on Sunday, leaving fans facing the prospect of missing out on seeing Australian golf's new Pied Piper.

It's a grim scenario for officials, who strayed from more than a century of tradition in staging the Australian Open men's and women's events simultaneously.

Thousands of spectators flocked to watch Smith in action at Victoria Golf Club on Thursday.

But the 150th British Open champion endured an afternoon to forget, spending seemingly half his round in trees and sand traps and faltering uncharacteristically on the greens.

The scrambling wizard started brightly enough with a birdie on the first hole.

But four bogeys and almost five frustrating hours later, Smith found himself well adrift of surprise first-round leader David Micheluzzi, who sizzled with a seven-under-par 63 to be two strokes clear of the field.


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