Date: August 17, 2007

Action man MacKenzie off to a flyer

Former action sports junkie Will MacKenzie has taken the lead at the Wyndham Championship through a sensational eight-under-par first round as several Australians remain in contention just three strokes off the pace. Despite his reputation as a joker on the tour, MacKenzie showed off some of the form that won him the Reno-Tahoe Open in 2006 by posting a superb score of 64 on the first day at Greensboro. There was no indication of what was to come when the American bogeyed his first hole but, from then on, MacKenzie posted nine birdies to storm into a one-stroke lead over Steve Marino, Lucas Glover, Brian Davis and Jeff Overton. MacKenzie&aposs quality round though, seems to be merely confirmation of the potential he showed as a junior before deciding to focus on surfing, snowboarding and kayaking. But, having become somewhat fed up with the outdoors life, MacKenzie was inspired to return to golf after seeing home-state hero Payne Stewart win the US Open in 1999. For the Australasian contingent at Greensboro though, it was something of a mixed day once more, despite the fact that over half of the field managed to break three-under. In a low-scoring round, Australia&aposs best at the Wyndham are John Senden, Steve Allan and Mark Hensby, who all finished day one with five-under 67s. The in-form Senden, who was Australia&aposs best at the USPGA Championship last weekend, produced four birdies on the back nine to set up his score while, for Hensby, it was four birdies going out. Allan, meanwhile, was on even par until the ninth hole when he carded an eagle and followed it up with four birdies coming home before a bogey on 16 halted his charge. One stroke behind that trio, after scoring four-under 68s, are Paul Gow and Nathan Green. Gow looked set for a huge round after carding five birdies going out, but the Aussie dropped a shot on the return, while Green had a spectacularly up and down round that consisted of two eagles, three birdies and three bogeys in his 68. Matthew Goggin, Jarrod Lyle, Andrew Buckle and Stephen Leaney are a further stroke behind at three-under while Peter Lonard and New Zealand&aposs Phil Tataurangi produced scores of two-under-70. Another Kiwi in Grant Waite is on even par after the first round, some eight strokes ahead of his unfortunate compatriot Craig Perks (80), while Australians Gavin Coles and Michael Sim are at one and two-over respectively. First Round of the Wyndham Championship, North Carolina: -8 Will MacKenzie 64 -7 Steve Marino 65, Brian Davis 65, Lucas Glover 65, Jeff Overton 65 -6 Shigeki Maruyama 66, John Merrick 66, John Huston 66, Todd Hamilton 66, Carl Pettersson 66, Todd Fischer 66, Greg Kraft 66 also: -5 John Senden (Australia) 67, Steve Allan (Australia) 67, Mark Hensby (Australia) 67 -4 Paul Gow (Australia) 68, Nathan Green (Australia) 68 -3 Matthew Goggin (Australia) 69, Jarrod Lyle (Australia) 69, Andrew Buckle (Australia) 69, Stephen Leaney (Australia) 69 -2 Peter Lonard (Australia) 70, Phil Tataurangi (New Zealand) 70, E Grant Waite (New Zealand) 72 1 Gavin Coles (Australia) 73 7 Michael Sim (Australia) 74 8 Craig Perks (New Zealand) 80