Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tiger Woods clickety-clicks to share Aussie Masters lead on 66

Tiger Woods has made a huge statement on the opening day of the JBWere Australian Masters at Kingston Heath, tearing up the sandbelt course with a six-under 66 to sit level with Australia's James Nitties and 21-year-old South African Branden Grace.
Stalked by a dedicated gallery that started at around 10,000 and swelled to almost double that size as the morning advanced, Woods fired seven birdies and one bogey to set a mark that was only matched by two others who also enjoyed the easier morning conditions.
Those who teed off in the afternoon were subject to increased winds and only a handful of them looked like challenging the early marks. Mathew Goggin was the best of them, finishing on four-under.
In all, 21,356 fans turned up for the opening day, and Woods rewarded the fans with a sparkling first-ever competitive round around Kingston Heath.
Woods, who started from the 10th, picked up two shots thanks to birdies on both of the par-fives on his outward nine to turn in 34 before scorching home in 32 which included a hat-trick of birdies at six, seven and eight.
His one blemish came at his closing hole, the ninth, where he pulled his drive into the tea tree on the left and had to settle for bogey.
"We can't believe how soft the greens were today," said Woods.
"The wind wasn't really blowing and the greens were soft so we could be pretty aggressive into the greens. I felt pretty good today, I hit the ball pretty decent. I didn't get my irons that close but took advantage of the par-5s.
"I bogeyed the last hole and missed two shots for birdie but other than that it was a pretty good day."
Grace, whose best finish on the European Tour this season has been a sixth in the South African Open Championship last December, entered the tournament in a last ditch bid to save his card on The European Tour where he sits in 149th place.
He got to seven-under before dropping a shot late in his round for his 66.
"I played really solidly today and just really enjoyed it out there. My caddy kept me really calm out there which was a huge help. It is just nice to be playing in Australia and playing on such an unbelievable course," Grace said.
"I'm not sure where I have to finish here to keep my status but I think it is about top three on my own, or maybe tied. That was one of my goals coming into the tournament."
Nitties used his local knowledge to his advantage in constructing a bogey-free round, the highlight of which was an eagle at the 516-metre, par-four 15th.
Melbourne's Cameron Percy is one shot off the pace after signing for a 67 as is New Zealand's Doug Holloway, who had bogey-free round.
Goggin joined Greg Chalmers and Peter Nolan, who both enjoyed early starts with rounds of 68 while six players, Englishman Lee Slattery and Australians Damien Jordan, Rohan Blizard, Rick Kulacz, Stuart Appleby and Ashley Hall finished with three-under 69s.
Last year's winner Rod Pampling, who along with Craig Parry (-2) partnered Woods, finished with a 71.
Aberdeen-born Australian Michael Sim, who will be playing on the US Tour next season, was joint 15th with a 70.
Callum Macaulay, Steven O'Hara and Andrew Coltart, all chasing high finishes to avoid going back to Tour School did not fare well. Callum had a 75, Coltart a 77 and O'Hara an 80.

Par 72
66 Tiger Woods (USA), Branden Grace (Rsa), James Nitties (Aus)
67 Doug Holloway (Nzl), Cameron Percy (Aus)
68 Mathew Goggin (Aus), Peter Nolan (Aus), Greg Chalmers (Aus)
69 Damien Jordon (Aus), Rick Kulacz (Aus), Ashley Hall (Aus), Stuart Appleby (Aus), Rohan Blizard (Aus), Lee Slattery
70 Manny Villegas (Col), David McKenzie (Aus), Michael Sim (Sco), Jason Dufner (USA), Ryan Haller (Aus), Craig Parry (Aus), Michael Curtain (Aus), Kurt Barnes (Aus)
71 Mahal Pearce (Nzl), Andrew Tampion (Aus), Klas Eriksson (Swe), Pelle Edberg (Swe), Steven Bowditch (Aus), Tim Wilkinson (Nzl), Craig Scott (Aus), Matthew Millar (Aus), Michael Long (Nzl), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Sam Little, Matthew Griffin (Aus), Richard Bland, Rodney Pampling (Aus), Adam Scott (Aus), Francois Delamontagne (Fra), Seve Benson, Gary Murphy, Ewan Porter (Aus), Andre Stolz (Aus), Peter O'Malley (Aus)
72 Scott Laycock (Aus), Benn Barham, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus), Josh Geary (Nzl), Adam Bland (Aus), Gareth Paddison (Nzl), Josh Younger (Aus), Alistair Presnell (Aus), Marc Leishman (Aus), Anthony Brown (Aus), Craig Spence (Aus), Richard Green (Aus), Steven Jones (Aus), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Michael Light (Aus)
73 Andrew Martin (Aus), Andrew Bonhomme (Aus), Andrew Tschudin (Aus), Todd Nicholson (Nzl), Mark Purser (Nzl), Michael Wright (Aus), Josh Carmichael (Aus), Alejandro Canizares (Spa), Terry Price (Aus), Peter Wilson (Aus), Hamish Robertson (Nzl), John Senden (Aus), Sam Saunders (USA), Adam Groom (Aus), Jason Norris (Aus), Aaron Baddeley (Aus), Brad Andrews (Aus), Simon Furneaux (Aus), Leigh McKechnie (Aus), Paul Sheehan (Aus), Rodney Booth (Aus)
74 Rudi Bezuidenhout (Aus), Frank Power (Aus), Richard Moir (Aus), Paul Marantz (Aus), Jarrod Moseley (Aus), Miles Tunnicliff, Brad Kennedy (Aus), Marcus Fraser (Aus), Tim Wise (Aus), Michael Campbell (Nzl), Ed Stedman (Aus), Paul Waring, Kurt Carlson (Aus), Aaron Pike (Aus), Matthew Giles (Aus), Brett Rumford (Aus)
75 Aaron Townsend (Aus), James Carr (Aus), Chris Gaunt (Aus), Michael Brennan (Aus), Michael Hendry (Nzl), Peter Cooke (Aus), Anthony Summers (Aus), Andrew Pitt (Aus), Tim Wood (Aus), Michael McGrath (Aus), Terry Pilkadaris (Aus), Callum Macaulay, Ryan Hammond (Aus), Adam Blyth (Aus)
76 Ben Bunny (Aus), Marcus Cain (Aus), Martin Doyle (Aus), Brendan Stuart (Nzl), Brad Shilton (Nzl), Stuart Bouvier (Aus), Adam Crawford (Aus), Alex Cejka (Ger), Aaron Black (Aus), Sam Brazel (Aus), Kim Felton (Aus)
77 Andrew Coltart, Adam Wilcox (Aus), Jens Nilsson (Swe), Heath Reed (Aus), Dean Kinney (Aus)
78 Alessandro Tadini (Ita), Kai Mckay (Aus), Daniel Morrison (Aus), Nick Cullen (Aus), Michael Choi (Aus), Rory Hie (Id)
79 Chris Downes (Aus)
80 Leighton Lyle (Aus), Tom Prowse (Aus), Ben Burge (Aus), Steven O'Hara, Michael Moore (Aus)
81 Richie Gallichan (Aus), Nathan Uebergang (Aus), Brad Lamb (Aus)
82 Grant Scott (Aus), Jared Pender (Nzl)
83 Mathew Holten (Nzl), Steven Jeppesen (Swe)



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