Date: November 22, 2007
Author: Bren O'Brien at Huntingdale

Early Allenby takes charge

Robert Allenby&aposs early-morning 67 has given the two-time MasterCard Masters champion a one-shot lead over Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed and Englishman Peter Baker after the first day at Huntingdale in Melbourne. Play got underway in cool and overcast conditions and Allenby enjoyed his time on the course which has been softened by around 25mm of rain over the past 48 hours. Teeing off just after 7am, Allenby made an excellent start from the 10th tee, birdying the 10th, 11th, 12th and 15th to be four-under-par through five. His only blemish came at the 17th, with a bogey five, but he got that back on the third hole. He picked up another shot at the par-five seventh to finish with a 67 to be on track for his third gold jacket after his successes here in 2003 and 2005. The Victorian felt he could have done much better with his opportunities and was frustrated by the speed of the greens. “I&aposm happy with the round, any time you have five-under around here is normally pretty good. Obviously it&aposs fair to say I probably left five or six shots out there today. I got away to a good start, birdied the first three holes, and had several chances from then on. But I kind of lost the feel of the speed of the greens,” he said. Andersson Hed was also off in the morning, capitalising on an eagle on his first hole to post a round of 68. The 35-year-old also finished off his round well with three birdies in his final four holes. Baker was the best of the afternoon players, holding on late in the day as the southerly wind gained strength. The Englishman made all his ground early, picking up five birdies and a bogey on the front nine before coming home with nine consecutive pars. Six players finished on three-under for the day, including Stuart Appleby. Appleby has not won on home soil since 2001 but made a positive start. He had three birdies and a bogey on his outward nine, and also picked up shots at the second and eighth. He handed a shot back on the ninth to sign for a 69. Australians Paul Marantz, Rod Pampling and Kurt Barnes, New Zealand&aposs Michael Long and Sweden&aposs Daniel Chopra are the other players two off the lead. Long played very consistent golf, going bogey-free through his 18 holes and picking up shots on holes six, 11 and 15, while Chopra finished with three birdies to surge late. Pampling made his run at the end of the front nine, bouncing back from an early bogey to pick up shots at four consecutive holes. Former Australian amateur champion Barnes also had four birdies and a bogey, while Marantz, who finished close to 7pm local time, powered up to equal second by grabbing four shots in three holes from the 14th before a late bogey dropped him back to equal fourth. There are 18 players at two-under-par, including Aaron Baddeley and 1997 and 2002 winner Peter Lonard. Baddeley battled down the back nine after earlier birdying holes three, five, six and eight. He bogeyed nine, 13 and double bogeyed 15 and birdied 10 and 14 in a real mixed bag to finish with a 70. He played in the marquee afternoon group with Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and John Senden. McIlroy relished his first taste of Huntingdale to be two-under-par as well while Senden slipped back to one-over-par after carding 39 on the back nine. Australian Andrew Tampion, second at this year&aposs Indonesian Open, went on a run of four birdies from holes seven to nine and then joined Allenby in the lead with a birdie on the par-3 12th. A bogey on the 14th and a double bogey on the 17th, where he took three shots to get out of a bunker, saw him slip down the leaderboard. There were 13 players who shot 71s. One of those was New Zealand&aposs Mahal Pearce, who had joined Allenby in the lead at one stage, rediscovering some of the form which saw him win the 2003 New Zealand Open. But he dropped four shots in his final three holes, including a double bogey on the last.