NSW’s Aaron Townsend sits at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the Victorian Open played in high winds.

Aaron Townsend has mastered the strong winds the best to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the Victorian Open.

The New South Welshman carded a three-under-par 69 at Thirteenth Beach Golf Club in Barwon Heads in difficult conditions on Thursday.

With strong wind gusts of up to 45km/h plaguing the course, only 13 players finished under par for the day.

Townsend will tee off early in round two with a one-stroke buffer over Victorians David Bransdon, Terry Pilkadaris, Leigh Deagan and Andrew Kelly while a shot further back is a group of eight players at one-under.

Townsend is coming off two top-ten finishes at the Queensland PGA Championship and the Victorian PGA Championship and was pleased with his round given the wind and some rain made low-scoring tough.

“That’s one of the windiest days I can remember, it was fun but I’m glad it’s over,” said Townsend, who managed a bogey-free back nine.

“I got a couple of nice breaks which helped, you need them on days like this. But in general I hit the ball exactly where I had to.”

Pilkadaris labelled it as a day where you just had to “roll with the punches”.

“We had a squall go through on the 18th and I hit my driver 200 metres,” he laughed.

“You just have to hang on to your hat literally! Funky things are going to happen and things aren’t going to go your way and you’ve just got to take it on the chin.”