Smoke from bushfires affects players at Australian Open

Paul Casey
Officials and players have been wearing face masks to combat the toxic smoke blowing over from the bushfires nearby

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 huge 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.

The tournament is taking place at the The Australian Golf Club, five miles south of Sydney's central business district.

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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