Cameron Smith was welcomed to the first tee at the 151st Open on Thursday morning to raucous applause and warmly announced as “the defending champion.” Less friendly, though, was the golf course at Royal Liverpool as the Australian began his title defence with a one-over-par 72.

“The crowd was awesome today,” he said of the Hoylake galleries. “There were a lot of Aussies in the crowd, which is always nice.”

Smith, who won last year’s 150th Open at St Andrews in stunning fashion, made four birdies and five bogeys to sit six shots back of the lead on day one at Hoylake. That lead, at five under, was taken by 6-foot-8 South African amateur, Christo Lamprecht, Emiliano Grillo and local hero Tommy Fleetwood, who hails from Southport – 50 kilometres up the road from Liverpool. Both shot fine 66s in calmer, but still windy, morning conditions.

“It was a little bit tricky; there’s still a score out there, and there was lots of good today for myself,” Smith said after his round. “I hit a couple of good drives the last few holes there on 16 and 18. They both went into some fairway bunkers, and they were probably some of my best swings of the day.That sums up links golf, though, to be honest. Some of your best shots and best strikes end up in the worst positions. You just have to take it for what it is and go out there tomorrow and try and shoot a low one.”

Despite the 72, Smith is still in contention and is confident of scoring his turning his six-shot deficit around on day two having overcame a four-shot handicap on the final day at St Andrews last year to win the claret jug.

“Yeah, absolutely; I don’t think [Royal Liverpool] is going to be quite as much of a birdie fest as last year, which is probably a good thing for me and the other guys that are over par,” Smith said. “Just a couple of good rounds should be right back in it. I don’t feel like I’m out of the tournament. I just need a little bit more commitment to some shots.

Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee were the leading Australians on day one, both carding an even par 71. That’s despite Herbert making a triple-bogey 6 on the redesigned but unpopular par-3 17th after he had climbed to three under. Watch the triple here:

“I hit some good shots to get in the right position to be give myself the chance to be 3-under through 16, so I’m not mad about it at all,” Herbert said. “Obviously I’d love to change 17, but I felt like I maybe hit a poor chip shot and that’s about it. 17 is going to play tough all day with wind on the green you can’t feel from the tee. I don’t think I’ll be the only one to run up a big number [on 17]. All in all, I’m not unhappy with it. I’m pretty pleased with even par.”

A shot back from Herbert at one over was the major-winning trio of Smith, Adam Scott and Jason Day. Scott was humming at two under but bogeyed the 17th and double-bogeyed the par-5 18th to plummet to one over. Hadyn Barron (74) was three over.

Connor McKinney, Harrison Crowe (amateur) were five over, David Micheluzzi six over, and Travis Smyth was seven over.