Date: April 25, 2008

Goggin has share of lead

Mathew Goggin battled the elements to claim a share of the lead after the first round of the EDS Byron Nelson Championship in Texas. Goggin, whose long game is held in extremely high regard by his peers, tamed tough conditions, with winds whipping over 20mph, to stand alongside Ryan Moore and Eric Axley. World number 10 Adam Scott, the highest-ranked player in the field, and Jesper Parnevik were among a large group one shot behind, while Masters champion Trevor Immelman struggled to a 78. “It definitely suits my game a lot better to have tougher conditions,” Goggin said after making a hat-trick of late birdies for a three-under-par 67 at the Four Seasons TPC. “I prefer it to be windy than dead still and a putting competition, because statistically putting is not the strongest part of my game, but ball-striking is, so any time you get a day like today it goes to my advantage.” The 33-year-old Australian last year ranked second on tour for total driving, which takes into account both distance and accuracy, and 11th in greens in regulation. However, Goggin finished a mediocre 103rd on the money list, an indication that his short game leaves a bit to be desired. But he has sharpened up around and on the greens this year, posting four top-20 finishes in his past six starts, and he knows it is time to start winning tournaments. Only even par with five holes left, he reeled off three birdies in a row to finish in style on a course that has been extensively revamped since last year. “The course was playing long and, not really knowing it that well, you were never 100% sure on your shots,” he said. “It was pretty brutal. I was really happy with three under.” Other Australians doing well in Texas include Mark Hensby, who is one-under-par and Michael Sim, Steve Allan and Stuart Deane who are all even-par after their opening rounds. Moore, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction with every facet of his game. “This is definitely one of my better rounds of the year, in those conditions,” said the 2004 United States amateur and NCAA champion. Moore, 25, has made steady progress since turning pro in 2005, finishing 59th on last year&aposs money list, but in the Tiger Woods era young players seem to be all but written off if they fail to win a major or two as soon as they leave the amateur ranks. Axley was the only player to get to four under at any stage, but a bogey at the last cost him the outright lead. “When you&aposre playing well, it doesn&apost feel as hard as it really is sometimes, but it was really tough,” Axley said. First Round Scores from the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, Irving, Texas -3: Matthew Goggin (Australia) 67, Ryan Moore 67, Eric Axley -2: Kevin Sutherland 68, Jesper Parnevik 68, Briny Baird 68, Adam Scott (Australia) 68, Shaun Micheel 68, Shaun Micheel, Ian Poulter 68, Dustin Johnson 68, Parker McLachlin 68 -1: Jeff Gove 69, Tag Riding 69, Charley Hoffman 69, Johnson Wagner 69, Cliff Kresge 69, Roland Thatcher 69, Alejandro Canizares 69, , Sean O Hair 69 Also: -3: Mark Hensby (Australia) 69 E: Michael Sim (Australia) 70, Steve Allan (Australia) 70, Stuart Deane (Australia) 70 1: Stephen Leaney (Australia) 71, Nick Flanagan (Australia) 71 2: Nathan Green (Australia) 72, Tim Wilkinson (New Zealand) 72 3: John Senden (Australia) 73, Steve Elkington (Australia) 73 4: David Lutterus (Australia) 74, Matt Jones (Australia) 74 6: Rod Rampling (Australia) 76