Date: March 06, 2009
Author: PA Sport

Allenby edges ahead

Robert Allenby shot a four-under-par 66 to take a narrow lead during the first round of the Honda Classic. Allenby birdied the final hole at PGA National Champion Course to grab a one-shot advantage over six players including Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Stewart Cink before play was suspended due to darkness with nine players left on the course. They will conclude their rounds early on Friday (US time) before the second round begins as scheduled. “I was very happy to hit a six iron at the last to six inches, and just tap it in and walk away,” said Allenby, who was four-under through 13 holes before alternating two birdies and two bogeys over his final four holes. “I&aposm happy with four-under. I think any time you shoot under par around this golf course, you&aposre doing well.” “I think four-under is a fantastic start. It puts me in great stead for the next three days.” Allenby has not won on the PGA Tour since 2001 but the Australian enjoyed nine top-10 finishes in 2008. Garcia is looking to rebound from a stunning first-round exit in last week&aposs WGC-Accenture Match Play. The world No.2 reeled off four birdies on his opening nine holes but could only manage eight pars and a bogey on the back nine. “I still felt like I played great on the back nine, and I shot one over,” Garcia said. “That tells you everything about this course, and the last four or five holes are quite tough. I was happy to finish three under, and it&aposs a good start.” Unlike Garcia, Cink is looking to build on an impressive showing at the Match Play in which he finished third. The American was flawless on the front nine with four birdies but bogeyed the 14th and 16th before sinking a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to grab a temporary share of the lead. “It&aposs the kind of course where you are going to be thrown some curves, and you need to adapt and roll with the punches, so to speak, and that&aposs what I was able to do today out there,” Cink said. “I made birdies when I had opportunities, and then when I hit it crooked, I was fortunate a few times where I had a shot from the rough or from the trees.” Also at three-under are Charlie Wi, Jeff Overton, Angel Cabrera and Will MacKenzie. Australians John Senden and Nathan Green are at one-under, while compatriot James Nitties is a stroke further back and New Zealand&aposs Tim Wilkinson is at one-over. Defending champion Ernie Els, who came from three strokes back to edge Luke Donald by a stroke last year, signed for a 73 after making two birdies against five bogeys. His three-over-par round was matched by a host of players including four Australians – Aron Price, Nick O&aposHern, Greg Chalmers and Marc Leishman. Els has had a solid start to the new season, reaching the quarter-finals at the Match Play and finishing in a tie for eighth at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.