Date: February 13, 2009

Aussies in the hunt in California

Australian duo Jason Day and Steve Elkington are amongst the leaders after the opening round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in California. Day and Elkington both carded five-under-par rounds of 67 to be in a tie for sixth place, two shots off the lead. Day strung three birdies together in the last four holes in his bogey-free round, while Elkington, who started on the back nine, began like a house on fire with four straight birdies, but bogeys on the 16th and the 9th cost him a chance of leading the tournament. Aron Price (68) and Mathew Goggin (70) both began solidly, while Matt Jones and Greg Chalmers are in a tie for 60th after carding 71s. Jarrod Lyle and Marc Leishman are at even-par, with Steve Allan a shot back at one-over. Dustin Johnson has cruised to the top of the leaderboard after an eagle on the first hole followed by five birdies left him in a first-place tie with a 7-under-par 65. However, he is not alone at the top as the little-known Robert Garrigus closed his afternoon with a flourish to storm ahead of the pack in this US$6.1million (AU$9.3 million) event, which is being played at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Poppy Hills Golf Club. Garrigus started on the back nine and registered three birdies but caught a hot streak at the end of the day, posting an eagle on the par-five seventh hole and following with consecutive birdies. Seeking his first career win, Garrigus has recorded seven top-10 finishes in three-plus years on the Tour. Johnson, meanwhile, is looking for his second career win in just his second full year on the PGA Tour. He and Johnson have plenty of competition near the top as 10 players are within two strokes, including Rich Beem, Vaughn Taylor and Charley Hoffman, who are tied at 6-under. Defending champion Steve Lowery&aposs solid start was negated by consecutive bogeys at holes eight and nine. He is five shots back at two-under. Last year, Lowery broke an eight-year victory drought and picked up his third PGA Tour title with a birdie on the first playoff hole to outlast Vijay Singh. Lowery entered the final round three strokes off the lead. Singh also is in the field this week, making his second start of the season. He played a consistent but uneventful round, recording one birdie and one bogey to finish at even-par. The winner of this event in 2004, Singh is making his return to the Tour after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in mid-January to repair a torn meniscus. Three-time major champion and reigning PGA Player of the Year Padraig Harrington started on the back nine and posted consecutive bogeys from holes two to four to slip to two-over.