Players at the Australian Open have complained of stinging eyes as toxic smoke from bushfires around Sydney affected the opening round on Thursday.
Sydney’s air quality index registered on a par with Beijing, forcing New Zealand golfer Ryan Chisnall, who is asthmatic, to don a face mask.
Smoke has blown over from fires that have raged for more than a month.
“It feels like I should shove a bit of salt water up my nose or something,” said Australian number one Adam Scott.
Scott, who is thinking about wearing a face mask for the second round, struggled to a four-over 75.
“Obviously not the conditions we want to be playing in. [The smoke] got pretty thick for a while,” he added.
England’s world number 14 Paul Casey, the highest-ranked player in the field, finished the day on 68, three shots off the lead.
“I must admit my eyes are stinging but you know I honestly feel for the people [nearer the fires], because we’re feeling it down here 100 [miles] away.
“I’m not going to complain because there’s people in a way worse position than me.”
Two young Asian amateurs, Japan’s Takumi Kanaya and Taiwan’s Yu Chun-an, both 21, led after day one with six-under-par 65s.
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