Date: August 14, 2009
Author: Sportal

Aussie pair on fire

Mathew Goggin and Robert Allenby have made blistering starts to the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. The Australian pair fired off first-round three-under-par 69s to be two strokes off leader Tiger Woods who registered a five-under 67. Goggin picked up consecutive birdies at the 6th and 7th holes and, after bogeying No.12, finished strongly with a further two birdies at No.16 and 17. Allenby kicked off the major with three birdies in the first seven holes. He proceeded to pick up another birdie at No.14 and, although a double-bogey at the next hole undid a lot of his good work, managed to record another birdie at the 16th hole. The Australians are in a tie for third position with American pair Hunter Mahan and David Toms, Spaniard Alvaro Quiros and Fijian Vijay Singh. Woods&apos round one was faultless with birdies at the 12th, 15th, 2nd, 3rd and 7th ensuring he enjoyed a one-stroke lead over Irishman Padraig Harrington who shot a four-under 68 to be outright second. Geoff Ogilvy and Brendan Jones are the next-best Aussies on one-under, Nathan Green finished the first round even, Michael Sim and John Senden are both one-over while Adam Scott signed off with a diabolical 10-over 82. Woods and Harrington started the tournament as they finished the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, locked in a duel at the top of the leaderboard. The pair threw down the gauntlet to an afternoon wave of starters that included world No.2 Phil Mickelson, and 2009 major winners Angel Cabrera, Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover. “I was just very comfortable with what I was doing today,” Woods said after playing the par-72, 7674-yard Hazeltine, the longest course in major championship history. “The golf course is set up very fair. It&aposs difficult but as Paddy (Harrington) and I were saying, you don&apost (usually) see pins, six, seven, eight feet from the side. It&aposs normally three and four.” “So you can make birdies and be a little more aggressive going at these flags. You don&apost have to be as conservative.” Having gone toe to toe at Firestone Country Club last Sunday in the final round, Woods and Harrington were paired once more for the first two rounds alongside Rich Beem, the 2002 champion when the event last visited Hazeltine. A triple-bogey from Harrington last Sunday had decided their battle and handed Woods his fifth victory of the year and the world No.1, a four-time US PGA champion, began the quest for his 15th major looking for a third tournament win in as many weeks. The pair matched each other hole for hole initially, both sinking birdies at their third hole of the day, the 12th, the Irishman did so thanks to a great approach shot to six feet and Woods with a 25-foot putt. Woods stole a march on the 642-yard, par-five 15th, getting up and down from a bunker but at the next hole Harrington caught up thanks to another good iron shot to six feet. Harrington had his only stutter of the day when he bogeyed the 1st but bounced straight back with a birdie at the next hole to return to two-under. Woods also birdied the second hole and got to four-under with a birdie at the par-five 3rd and Harrington joined him there thanks to another good iron shot at the 6th, from where he made a birdie three. Woods added another birdie from three feet at the 7th, his 16th, to go into the outright lead at five-under, finally separating himself from the Irishman to take the clubhouse lead in 67. “I&aposm very happy,” Harrington said. “First day of a major it&aposs always good to keep yourself in there.” “I think I did a little bit more than that; any time you break 70 you&aposve got to be pleased.” “It&aposs a little bit tough when you&aposre coming back to defend the tournament, there&aposs a little bit more spotlight and focus, so shooting 68 is a good start.” Meanwhile, Rod Pampling and Stuart Appleby were two-over, Richard Green, Steve Elkington and New Zealander David Smail carded three-over 75s and Aaron Baddeley finished the day on four-over. Smail&aposs countryman Michael Campbell joined Scott down in the doldrums with a score of eight-over.