Date: December 04, 2009

Hend and Appley share Round 1 lead

2001Champion Stuart Appleby has joined big hitting Queenslander Scott Hend at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the first day of the 2009 Australian Open at the NSW Golf Club. The pair shot opening rounds of 6 under 66 to hold a one shot lead from fellow Aussies James Nitties and Peter Wilson (67) with countrymen Steve Allan and Adam Scott (68) a further shot back in a tie for fifth place alongside American David Oh. Hend took the lead early with a blistering display making the most of the calmer morning conditions. The 35 year old father of two mixed eight birdies with two bogeys after teeing off in the first group of the day from the 10th tee. “I just thought well,” a delighted Hend said at his post-round press conference. “It&aposs just great to get out there when there&aposs hardly any wind at all and you can just play your shots. “I think tomorrow could be quite ugly in the afternoon so you&aposve sort of got to get a little bit of a head start because you know it&aposs going to even up after 36 holes and then the weekend it&aposs just a lucky draw.” In contrast, Hend s co-leader and 2001 Australian Open champion Appleby withstood wind gusts of up to 50kph on the picturesque yet challenging links layout to birdie seven of his first 12 holes and take the outright lead before his first bogey of the day at the par-four 14th saw him drop back to six-under par. The leader board is dominated by players from the morning session with Nova Castrian James Nitties and Victoria&aposs Peter Wilson also capitalising on the benign conditions to sit one stroke off the lead after carding five-under 67&aposs. Nitties played in one of the marquee groups alongside Adam Scott and crowd favourite John Daly, while Wilson, who started on the 10th hole, stormed home with six birdies on the front nine to share second spot. After a tie for sixth place at the recent JHBWere Masters, Adam Scott continued his fine end of season form playing his opening 12 holes in level-par. He birdied four of his final six holes to sit well within striking distance heading into day two. Greg Chalmers, who played in the same group as Appleby, got to four-under before consecutive bogeys at the 14th and 15th saw him finish with a respectable two-under 70. NSW Open Champion Leigh McKechnie and American Bryce Molder are also among a group of seven players at minus two, one clear of young-guns Marc Leishman and Michael Sim who both made solid starts. Tournament drawcard Daly signed for a respectable 72 after making an eagle on the par-five eighth – his penultimate hole of the day. Playing in his first tournament since August, the new-look Daly mixed six bogeys with four birdies and an eagle in an adventurous opening round. Pre-tournament favourite Geoff Ogilvy fought back from a disastrous start which saw him bogey three of the first four holes to finish at plus one with playing partner Mathew Goggin. Tomorrow s second round of the 2009 Australian Open will see the first groups tee off at 7:10am.