Three share lead at Aussie Open
BY Bruce Young | Australasian PGA Tour | 2008 Australian Open | Round One | 11 Dec 2008
It is the West Australian golfer Stephen Dartnall, New South Welshman Ewan Porter and Tasmanian Mathew Goggin who led at the completion of the opening round of the Australian Open, their afternoon course record equalling rounds of 65 surprising many who felt that the morning rounds of 65 by New Zealanders David Smail and Mark Brown would stand up all day.
“The wind was tricky early on in our rounds but it did die down on the back nine and the two par fives were reachable so it made it a little easier than it might have been,” said co leader Mathew Goggin.
Goggin, who arrived in Sydney off the back of a disappointing last day at Coolum when he let a three shot lead slip, was assisted by a lesson earlier this week with his coach Dale Lynch.
“I came here with a slinging hook and couldn’t really get at the right hand flags but after a session with Lynchie I feel more confident about moving the ball both ways.”
The undoubted highlight of Goggin’s round was a magnificent 4 wood from 270 yards to 3 feet at the par five 16th that set up an eagle that would take him into a share of the lead with Dartnall.
“I was disappointed with last Sunday, more especially as I had not been able to put pressure on Geoff (Ogilvy) when I wanted to take control of the tournament on the 15th and then again at the 18th when I wanted to put pressure on him again after I had made birdie to get back within one after falling behind.”
“I believe in myself now,” added Goggin when asked if he was a better player now than was the case twelve months ago. “I have been working on that side of my game for the past five years or so. I am now giving myself chances against the best players in the world on a regular basis.”
Dartnall is a 24 year old from Royal Perth Golf Club who has been a professional for nearly two years having played for Australia in the Eisenhower Trophy in South Africa in 2006. He played this event two years ago as an amateur getting a start that year courtesy of his place in the national team. He made the cut then. This year Dartnall had to fight for his place in the field but did so magnificently by shooting a ten under par round of 62 at Brighton on Monday.
“I played alright at Coolum last week but finished well back after making the cut,” said Dartnall. “I felt I was playing well enough coming into this week however.”
Dartnall finished 104th on the money list on the Nationwide Tour this year mainly by Monday qualifying but needed to be inside the top 100 to have just limited status for next year. So unless things change it will be more of the same in 2009.
Like Goggin, Dartnall’s highlight of the day was an eagle but his came at the par five second hole (his 11th hole of the round).
Local golfer, Ewan Porter, after an early bogey in his round moved slowly but surely through the leaderboard late in the day after starting his round at 1.30. Porter won the Nationwide Tour’s Moonah Classic in February and appeared certain to claim PGA Tour status at that point. His win was in one of the richest events of the year on the Nationwide Tour but his year became a slippery slide from that point on. This is a very encouraging return to the sort of form that saw Porter dominate the Moonah event throughout.
Porter birdied three of his last four holes to join Goggin and Dartnall in the lead.
Rod Pampling birdied his final hole of the day to join the early leaders Brown and Smail at five under par 67 and just two behind the lead. The Queenslander is in fine form at present having won the Australian Masters and finished third at the Australian PGA Championship.
Other notable rounds included that of brilliant amateur Danny Lee, who had 68 to not only lead the amateur race by five shots but to further enhance his chances of a great week.
The man who won here in 2006, John Senden, opened with a round of 69 as did the only two time winner of this event this decade, Peter Lonard, who birdied the final hole. Lonard had the short putter out for the first time in Australia in many years and his putting was significantly improved form the ordinary effort last Friday at Hyatt Regency Coolum.
Given a repeat of today’s conditions the cut would likely fall at 2 over but with conditions expected to worsen tomorrow then three or even four over might be good enough to make to weekend.
While the scoring was good on day one, most of the intrigue was in the remarkable reaction to John Daly throwing a camera against a tree that had been used by a spectator to snap a few pictures of him late in his round. Daly reacted strongly and perhaps a little excessively although the spectator was out of order taking photos when no cameras are allowed on the golf course.
Golf Australia’s Tournament Director Trevor Herden said after that no action would be taken against Daly as the spectator had breached any rights he may have had by taking a camera onto the course when he was not permitted to do so.