Gold Coast - A
pair of lesser-known Australians stole the limelight from headline act
Sergio Garcia in the first round of the Australian PGA on Queensland's
Gold Coast on Thursday.
Jordan Zunic and Adam Bland both shot six-under-par 66s on the par 72
Royal Pines Resort on a day marred by heavy rain that caused a number
The pair finished one shot clear of reigning Masters champion Garcia and recent BMW Championship winner Marc Leishman.
Veteran Australian Peter Senior and his fellow Queenslanders Daniel Nisbet and Michael Wright also finished five under the card.
Garcia, who teed off at the early time of 6.10, had five birdies and no bogies in his round of 67.
Playing alongside fellow US Masters winner Adam Scott and last week's
Hong Kong Open champion Wade Ormsby (who both shot 71), Garcia's round
was interrupted by heavy rain sweeping across southeast Queensland.
The 37-year-old Spaniard said he was pleased with his score on a course he had not seen before Wednesday's practice round.
"Obviously a couple of rain delays on the course is not what you hope
for, but other than that I felt like I played pretty solid," Garcia
"I wouldn't say that it was amazing but it was good.
"The most positive thing for me would be to go a bogey-free round, which I didn't realise until we got done.
"I'm obviously extremely proud of the way I scored, being the second time I played the course."
"In practice rounds I've done it before, but in a tournament I think
probably the earliest I've teed off was 06:50, maybe 07:00," he added.
"It was interesting. I think it was probably the closest I've had a dinner and a breakfast ever."
Leishman took out the biggest title of his career in September when
he won the BMW Championship on the PGA Tour, the third leg of the
lucrative FedEx Cup playoff tournaments.
He was one-over after seven holes on Thursday before firing five
birdies and an eagle to soar up the leaderboard, his only blemish on the
back nine was a bogey on the par 3, 14th.
Unlike Garcia, Leishman has played the course many times before and said that had helped him.
"The experience around a course like this when the greens are as severe as they are (is helpful)," he said.
"There's a few runoffs and it's nice to know where they run off from, and I've missed a few greens around here in the past.
"So I know the holes where I can attack and the holes where I have to back off a little bit."
Senior, 58, now plays on the European Senior Tour but lives on
nearby Hope Island and showed his local knowledge with his opening 67.
The veteran Queenslander won the first of his three Australian PGA
titles in 1989 but showed with his 2015 Australian Masters victory that
he cannot be discounted.
Leading scores after the first round of the Australian PGA golf championship at the par-72 Royal Pines Resort on Thursday:
66 - Jordan Zunic (AUS), Adam Bland (AUS)
67 - Sergio Garcia (ESP), Marc Leishman (AUS), Peter Senior (AUS), Daniel Nisbet (AUS), Michael Wright (AUS)
68 - Rhein Gibson (AUS), Greg Chalmers (AUS), Stephen Dartnall (AUS),
Lucas Herbert (AUS), Cameron Smith (AUS), James Nitties (AUS), Brett
69 - Craig Parry (AUS), Dale Brandt-Richards (AUS), Travis Smyth
(AUS), David Bransdon (AUS), Andrew Martin (AUS), Joachim Hansen (DEN),
Rory Bourke (AUS), Sean Crocker (USA), Mark Brown (NZL), Andrew
Schonewille (AUS), Josh Geary (NZL)
71 - Adam Scott (AUS), Harold Varner III (USA), Mike Weir (CAN)