Date: May 24, 2007

Fraser within one shot

Australian Marcus Fraser has carded a five-under-par round of 67 to be just one shot from the lead after the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship in England. Fraser fired seven birdies and two bogeys in his round to be tied for third with Francesco Molinari, Shiv Kapur and Simon Khan , the trio trailing joint leaders Paul Broadhurst and Justin Rose by a solitary stroke. Playing in England for the first time in three years – and for the first time anywhere since he was fifth in the Masters at the start of last month – Rose began the Championship in style. Suffering as he has been from disc trouble in his back – as he was before the Masters – Rose was understandably thrilled at both his performance and his state of health. “I felt great, which is the good news,” he said. “I didn&apost think about the back at all.” In Australia in December – just before he got married – he ended four years without a victory and he has had eight top 10 finishes on the US Tour since the start of last year. “Going out today I didn&apost know whether being fresh would be in my favour or being rusty would work against me,” Rose added. “I guess being fresh won the day, although on the back nine I was struggling with my concentration a bit.” It nearly cost him on the 489-yard 15th, but his pulled drive hit the backpack of a spectator and bounced away from the out of bounds fence rather than over it. “That was lucky, I suppose. To have a swing, to hit a four-iron to 30 feet and to make it for birdie I felt I stole a couple of shots.” Another birdie, his eighth of a round which also contained bogeys on the third and ninth, came at the next, but he could not improve on six under on the two closing par fives. Despite being based now in Florida he commented: “I still find myself saying &aposI can&apost wait to go home&apos. This feels like a home game and you get a different sort of noise to an American crowd.” Broadhurst was equally delighted with his 66, coming as it did a week after what he described as an &aposabsolute horror&apos at the Irish Open. The former Ryder Cup player, who just failed to earn a return to Europe&aposs side after a gap of 15 years last September, missed the cut by only three strokes at Adare Manor, but his scores of 79 and 75 hardly left him feeling optimistic. Like Rose, he did not know what to expect, but stated: “I got rid of the technique and just tried to score.” Broadhurst&aposs swing was still not silky smooth, but with a chip-in and a mere 21 putts – only one outside the Tour record held by Padraig Harrington – he now has hopes of at least achieving his first top 10 both of the season and in an event he has been playing since 1989. World number five Ernie Els had two bogeys and a double bogey on the front nine, but also showed three birdies and five more came on the way home to post a 68, while Irish Open winner Harrington had five in the last 10 holes for a 69 that keeps alive his hopes of a two-week double. Matthew Millar is the next best placed Australian behind Fraser, tied for 13th position after a round of 69, while compatriot Peter O&aposMalley is a further two strokes adrift in equal 34th position after a 71. Fellow Australians Richard Green and Terry Price posted respectable opening rounds of 73 to be well in the hunt at one-over-par, while Brett Rumford struggled during the opening round finishing with a 77 and a tie of 125th place. Results from the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship: (par 72) -6: Paul Broadhurst 66, Justin Rose 66 -5: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 67, Shiv Kapur 67, Simon Khan 67, Francesco Molinari 67 -4: Alejandro Canizares 68, Ernie Els 68, Mikko Ilonen 68, Jyoti Randhawa 68, Richard Sterne 68, Y E Yang 68 -3: Fredrik Andersson Hed 69, Nick Dougherty 69, Padraig Harrington 69, Matthew Millar (Australia) 69, Louis Oosthuizen 69, Lee Slattery 69 Also: -1: Peter O&aposMalley (Australia) 71 +1: Richard Green (Australia) 73, Terry Price (Australia) 73 +5: Brett Rumford (Australia) 77