Bushfire smoke causes devastation at Australian golf tournament

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New Zealand Ryan Chisnall, who suffers from asthma, struggled to breathe in the Australian Open conditions in Sydney and got a mask of a spectator midway through his first round.

"I don't know if (the mask) helped, but I let it spin for a while and tried it out," said Chisnall, who shot one under par, quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald. "I would always go on.

" It's pretty bruising. It is an emotional roller coaster and you go through ups and downs. I feel good physically. It's just the constant cough. Towards the end of the day the head starts to hurt a bit because you cough so much. "

READ: Tiger Woods says his children are not talking about his Masters victory. On Thursday, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported that 117 forest fires were still burning in the region, 60 of which were still unsealed.

The air quality at the Australian Golf Club was considered good while the game started, but it deteriorated all day long when the wind blew smoke over the course.

"I'm not sure what the prediction is, but the smoke is not good at all, "said Australian Matt Jones, who finished second at four.

" It's hard to see your golf ball when you play there, where it ends. Your eyes burn. I have that cough as if you have something in your lungs, mucus in your lungs or whatever, but it's no fun.

"I hope my children are in the hotel room."

READ: Tiger Woods – a tumultuous 10 years from scandal to redemption

World Nr. 14 Paul Casey, the highest ranked golfer in the field, downplayed the impact that circumstances had on his game.

"It was tough there, but I feel more for those sitting right next to the fire," the Englishman told reporters.

"So you're not going to hear me complain. Apart from stinging eyes, it didn't have an effect on our wave."

Yu Chun-an from Chinese Taipei and Takumi Kanaya from Japan – both amateurs – share the lead at six under par after the first day in Sydney.

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Before the tournament, Head of Golf Australia, Stephen Pitt, said the prospects were "really optimistic," and add organizers to continue to monitor the circumstances.

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