Wilkinson leads morning field at Coolum
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2008 Australian PGA Championship | Round One | 04 Dec 2008
A drive that found the bunker at the final hole of the first round of the 2008 Australian PGA Championship led to a bogey but that was the only real mistake that New Zealander Tim Wilkinson made in what was an impressive start to the event.
An opening round of six under par 66 has Wilkinson as a one shot leader over the leading ranked player in this event, Geoff Ogilvy, and fellow New Zealander, Richard Lee, at the completion of the morning’s play on day one.
A rookie on the PGA Tour in 2008, the 30-year-old led the Sony Open into the final round after a third round of 62 in his very first event and although he battled there he eventually did enough in his first season to safely retain his status for 2009 and it was very much a case of mission accomplished.
A runner up finish at the Texas Open late in the season moved him past the figure he needed to be assured of achieving the goal of most in their first season, namely to safely negotiate their way through their first season and be back to capitalise on the experience gained.
“If I was to quantify it I would say I am a one shot better player than was the case at Tour School last year,” said Wilkinson when asked how his game compares after a year on the PGA Tour. “I think I learned about being in contention and the biggest change has been in the mental side of things,” he added.
“It was a good solid round today. The only time I got into any trouble was when I found the fairway trap at the 13th and 18th but I managed to save par at the 13th.”
“I was tempted to have a few weeks off and not play these events in Australia but IMG asked if I would play last week at Huntingdale and then I decided to play here and next week at the Open.”
Wilkinson finished 11th last week but said today that he is always better in his second week back after a break. He had had three weeks off since his last event in the US when 33rd in Orlando.
Geoff Ogilvy was happy with his round especially after a break. Ogilvy has not played since the HSBC Championship in China a month and has had a very limited schedule in the latter half of this year.
“All in all 5 under is pretty good,” he said after his round. “Normally low scores prevail here but today it was a little tricky.”
Richard Lee plays the Asian Tour but his form in recent months has been woeful, his best finish was a 33rd in his last 19 starts. This is a significant turnaround for the man who beat Michael Campbell to win the New Zealand Amateur Championship in 1992.