Unsung duo top Australian PGA

2011-11-24 12:50

Coolum - South Korea's Choi Joon-Woo and local hope Steven Bowditch will take a one-shot lead into the second round of the Australian PGA after both fired six-under-par 66s in Coolum on Thursday.

The joint leaders outshone their more famous compatriots on a day of low scoring at the par-72 Hyatt Regency Course on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Choi posted his round, which included six birdies and an eagle, early in the day and looked likely to be the sole leader after the opening round at the $1.5-million event.

But late in the day Bowditch, who is from the nearby town of Caloundra, stormed home with five birdies in the last seven holes to join the unheralded South Korean at the top of the leaderboard.

They led by one shot from a group of four players, US Presidents Cup team member Bubba Watson and the Australian trio of Aaron Baddeley, Andre Stolz and the little-known Aaron Townsend.

Like Bowditch, Watson finished strongly, with three consecutive birdies to keep the pressure on the early leaders.

"I had some bad breaks but I had some good breaks so that was pretty good," Watson said. "I couldn’t expect more than that with the way that I hit it.

"They are good greens - they have a nice pace to them. They are really smooth.

"The ball runs really well on them so if you get the right lines and you are stroking it well, you can make putts out here."

A group of eight players were a shot further back, while many of the tournament big guns were all well-placed at three under, including British Open champion Darren Clarke, the South Korean pair YE Yang and Kim Kyung-Tae, rising American star Rickie Fowler and Australia's great hope Jason Day.

Northern Irishman Clarke was happy with his round of 69.

"I played the front-nine well but then the jet lag got me," he said.

"I made a couple of silly mistakes because I don't know the course and that's what cost me."

Australian Open champion Greg Chalmers had the highlight of the round with a hole-in-one at the par-three second as he fired a one-under 71.

"To be honest, it came at a good time -- I really needed it," Chalmers said.

Leading first round scores from the $1.5 million Australian PGA at the Hyatt Regency Resort (par 72) on Thursday (Australian unless stated):

66 - Choi Joon-Woo (KOR), Steven Bowditch

67 - Aaron Townsend, Bubba Watson (USA), Aaron Baddeley, Andre Stolz

68 - Wu Kang Chun (CHN), Marcus Fraser, Josh Geary (NZL), Adam Bland, Steve Conran, Leigh McKechnie, Han Chang-Won (KOR), Kieran Pratt

69 - Mitchell Brown, Matthew Millar, Kurt Barnes, Tim Wood, Peter Nolan, Darren Clarke (NIR), Heath Reed, Robert Allenby, Kim Kyung-Tae (KOR), David Brandson, Chan Shih Chang (TPE), Josh Younger, Aron Price, Rickie Fowler (USA), YE Yang (KOR), Jason Day, Pavit Tangkammolprasert (THA), David Klein (NZL)

Selected scores:

70 - Adam Scott, Stuart Appleby, Peter Senior, Eugene Choe (USA)

71 - Ronald Harvey (CAN), Greg Chalmers

72 - Greg Norman, Wisut Artjanawat (THA), Jason Kang (USA), Geoff Ogilvy, Ouyang Zheng (CHN)