Australian trio Gavin Coles, Scott Gardiner and James Nitties have made solid starts in their attempt to win a place on the USPGA Tour in 2009. Twelve Australians are currently teeing up in the marathon 108-hole final stage of qualifying, with the top 25 players (plus ties) gaining an exemption to the USPGA Tour next year. Coles, Gardiner and Nitties are in equal 36th place at three-under after shooting 69, with five rounds still remaining before the final spots on the US Tour are awarded. Major Manning, Craig Kanada and Joey Lamielle currently lead the tournament at seven-under, while the remaining Australians in the field are still within striking distance. Matt Jones, Adam Bland and Stuart Deane shot opening rounds of 71 to be tied for 79th place, while one shot further adrift are fellow Australians Paul Gow and Andrew Bonhomme. Compatriots Steve Allan (+1), Jason Day (+2), Won Joon Lee (+2) and Andrew Buckle (+3) all finished the opening day over par.