Williamson leads after brilliant opening round
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2007 Australian Open | Round One | 13 Dec 2007
It took nearly the whole day to determine the first round leader at the Australian Open Golf Championship in Sydney but to the ire of nearly every journalist who had already partially written their story, 28-year-old American, Lee Williamson, birdied the final hole of his round to gazump the earlier leaders Robert Allenby, Andrew Bonhomme and Kim Felton.
Out in the penultimate group of the day, Williamson birdied the 16th and 18th holes to finish with 65 and move past the early leaders and take a two shot lead into day two. An astonishing ten birdies and a triple bogey at his 9th hole was the story of the day for the man who was raised in Indiana but now lives in California.
Williamson, who was educated at Purdue University, finished third behind Nicholas Thompson at this year’s New Zealand PGA Championship in Christchurch and amongst other credentials he has to his name, he finished runner up to Ryan Moore at the US Public Links Championship in 2002 so clearly he is a much better than his low profile in this country would suggest.
He is here this week because of the third place at the New Zealand PGA Championship, joining the Australasian Tour immediately after that week and taking advantage of the start in this event that performance provided.
“I said to my caddy yesterday that this is a good golf course that will require lots of pars to do well. Today I had ten birdies which I’m delighted with as it was tough out there although late in the day the wind did die down a little. I had one bad hole at the 9th where it was essentially one bad swing and it led to a lost ball and a triple bogey. I probably scored a little better then I played but the two pitch ins and some very good putting helped.”
Felton, who was the other to do well late in the day was surprised by his effort.
“I would have laughed if you told me before I went out that I would shoot 67, not only because the conditions but because I have been struggling with my game,” he said after walking from the course.
“I have lost confidence in my golf swing and my putting, which used to be a feature of my game a couple of years ago, is not good at present. I said to my caddy as I walked from the 18th that if felt like the old Kim Felton,” added the 1996 Australian Amateur Champion.
Paul Marantz, the now Queensland based New South Welshman, was another to challenge then join the lead during the afternoon but he dropped a shot at his last hole of the day and is at four under along with Geoff Ogilvy and Scott Hend.
Other significant moments late in the day came from Peter Lonard who was struggling at two over with four holes to play but played the last four holes in three under to finish with a very respectable one under par round of 71. Another inform player, Brendan Jones, also finished strongly with two late birdies for 71 also and to be more than satisfied with his day’s work.
A surprising 49 players broke par on day one, a figure that is unlikely to be repeated as this tournament enters day two and beyond.