Adam Scott still believes despite Australia’s nine-strong contingent making a rough start to the US Open in New York.
Scott and Cameron Smith both opened with one-over-par 71s to be the best-placed Australians, six shots behind first-round leader Justin Thomas.
Jason Day (72), Lucas Herbert (72) and Marc Leishman (73) also have ground to make up, while Scott Hend (74), Curtis Luck (75), Matt Jones (76) and amateur debutant Lukas Michel (80) all sit outside the projected halfway cut line.
Scott was disappointed after he and fellow former world No.1 Day failed to take advantage of the relatively easier morning conditions at the famous and brutal Winged Foot layout.
But he was buoyed by a birdie-birdie finish that left the 2013 Masters champion in contention for an elusive second career major.
“It was a nice way to finish the round. Lunch is going to taste a lot better,” Scott said.
“I needed it. I was kind of stalling at the end there. We had kind of ideal conditions out there, I think, for the first round of a US Open.
“I was a little scratchy into the greens when I missed a couple fairways, and you can’t be too critical about your shots into the greens from there.
“When I was in the fairway, just wasn’t quite dialled in.
“I putted well today, though. If I can straighten it out with the irons, everything else feels good.”
Smith rallied with a two-under back nine to also be in the mix while two bogeys, and a double-bogey on the par-3 third hole, undid Day’s two birdies.
“Hit a poor shot out to the right and then made a mess of it,” Day said.
“I felt like overall I played some solid golf, just a little bit indifferent. I’m not angry, I’m not mad about it either or happy about it.
“So overall we’ve still got three days left, so we’ve got to just focus on that.
“Conditions are going to be tougher. It’s just try and stay as patient as possible really.”
The nine Australians have returned to the scene of countryman Geoff Ogilvy’s memorable US Open triumph in 2006.
Ogilvy won with a five-over 72-hole total and Scott and Day maintain this year’s winner will also struggle to break par for the championship.
Only 21 players finished in red numbers after Thursday’s opening round.
Scott said “it would be hard to say no” if offered three remaining even-par rounds.
“I’d probably take three 70s,” he said. “I see it playing tougher the next few days.”
HOW THE AUSSIES AND BIG NAMES FARED:
65: Justin Thomas (USA) – leader
66: Patrick Reed (USA)
67: Rory McIlroy (NIR)
69: Jon Rahm (ESP), Bryson DeChambeau (USA)
71: Adam Scott, Cameron Smith
72: Jason Day, Lucas Herbert
73: Marc Leishman, Tiger Woods (USA), Dustin Johnson (USA)
74: Scott Hend
75: Curtis Luck
76: Matt Jones
80: Lukas Michel