Date: November 16, 2006
Author: Luke Buttigieg

Greens set Sydney pace

By Luke Buttigieg, Sportal The MFS Australian Open began with Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby as the favourites, but with unseasonably cold weather prevailing a trio of lesser lights were the ones who put themselves in pole position for day two. Nathan Green led the way with a five-under 67 that included four front-nine birdies, the confidence gained from a tie for second on the US PGA Tour – when he was beaten in a playoff by Tiger Woods – evident as he also defied the nerves associated with playing alongside Greg Norman. Green also finished 41st on the American money list in 2006 and says his season in the USA has given him the belief that he belongs in top company, even if his night&aposs sleep leading in to the tournament was interrupted by his Shark-induced butterflies. His namesake Richard, who claimed the biggest win of his career two years ago when he captured the MasterCard Masters at Huntingdale, is now looking to add the Stonehaven Cup to his trophy cabinet. The Melburnian was a little surprised that his game stood up in the strong winds and heavy rain that dominated the opening morning at Royal Sydney, having been undone in similar weather in the past in British and Irish tournaments, but stood the test well. Level with Richard Green at three-under is Victorian Jarrod Lyle, who is fresh from finishing high enough on the Nationwide Tour money list to guarantee his US PGA Tour card for 2007. The 23-year-old from Shepparton burst onto the scene early in his professional career when he tied for third at the 2005 Heineken Classic, missing the playoff by a shot, and his game continues to improve. Lurking ominously not far off the pace also is two-time champion Peter Lonard, who knows what it takes to win in difficult conditions, while US Open champion Ogilvy did what he had to in order to shoot 72 and ensure he didn&apost leave himself with too much work later in the tournament. Scott, Paul Sheehan and Brett Rumford were others who did enough to hang in there with the leaders, but there are others that have their work cut out to get back in the hunt on Friday. Dual winner Aaron Baddeley and 2001 champion Appleby both shot 75, John Senden and Marcus Fraser carded 76s, Allenby, Rod Pampling and 17-year-old amateur Matthew Giles signed for 77s, Stephen Leaney and Jarrod Moseley shot 78s, Greg Norman carded a 79 and Craig Parry crashed to an 82. With both Richard Green and Ogilvy stating that the conditions they battled on day one were among the worst they had confronted in their careers, there will be 144 players hoping the weather takes a turn for the better on day two. And they&aposll be pleased to know that the temperature – which only reached a chilly 15.6 degrees celsius on Thursday – is tipped to climb to at least 20 on day two after some possible early showers.