Date: December 04, 2008
Author: Luke Buttigieg at Coolum, Sportal

Lightning ends day’s play

The opening round of the Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship will be completed on Friday morning after lightning strikes at Coolum forced play to be suspended on Thursday with Tim Wilkinson and Peter Wilson leading. Wilkinson had already completed a six-under 66 to set the clubhouse pace while Wilson had dropped back to that score to share the lead after earlier being at minus eight thanks largely to a front-nine he negotiated in just 29 strokes. Half of the 156-man field was still on the course when thunderstorms rolled in just after 3pm (AEST) and officials made the decision at 4:45pm to resume play at 5:30am on Friday, with round-two tee times set to be pushed back by an hour. Wilson had largely defied winds that had continued to strengthen throughout the day, sizzling around the front nine with birdies at every hole except the 2nd and 8th as he looked set to threaten the course record of 63. But after adding another birdie at the 12th a double bogey at the 13th halted his charge and he had just parred the 14th when the suspension came, leaving him level with 30-year-old New Zealander Wilkinson. 2006 US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and Wilkinson&aposs compatriot Richard Lee both shot 67 and have since been joined at minus five by two-time champion Peter Senior, who has played 11 holes so far. Fresh from his first season on the US PGA Tour, which included more than $US 1 million ($AU 1,555,845) in prizemoney and three top-five finishes, Wilkinson went out in 31 after starting at the first tee and was seven-under at one point. Wilkinson grabbed birdies at the first two holes, went to the turn with three more in a row and picked up further shots at the 12th and 14th to open up a two-shot lead, but his sole blemish for the day halved his lead at that point. “Yeah it was good, I wanted to get off to a good start because the morning conditions it&aposs always a little bit calmer,” Wilkinson said. “I birdied the first two holes and then missed a couple of easy birdies on four and five, I was a little bit annoyed.” “(It was) solid, if I could do that for three more days I&aposd be happy. It was pretty straightforward, I hit a lot of good shots and there&aposs just the one tee shot on the last I&aposd like back, that&aposs it.” Lee had a flawless round that included five birdies while Ogilvy collected an eagle and three birdies through his first 10 holes, and conceded he could have gone even lower as he came home with eight pars. “I started very well, I was three-under after three which is always a nice way to start,” Ogilvy said. “I played really solid on the front nine, not so solid on the back nine, but it was getting pretty windy in the last eight or nine holes.” “I played really well and … it (his front nine) could&aposve been a pretty special nine holes and then I kind of unravelled a little bit on the back nine but as I said it got a bit tricky and blustery.” One shot further back thanks to a 68 is Victorian Peter Nolan, and Tasmanian Mathew Goggin is also four-under at the turn, while Brett Rumford, 2006 Australian Open winner John Senden, Steve Collins, Martin Dive and Mahal Pearce all signed for 69s. Defending champion Peter Lonard and Queenslander Steven Bowditch both shot 70, along with one of Ogilvy&aposs playing partners, Michael Sim, while Sportsbet Masters winner Rod Pampling and Robert Allenby are also at minus two. The third member of group 16, American John Daly, slumped to two-over on the back nine with a double bogey and another bogey but recovered with five birdies in his last 13 holes to shoot 71 and share 18th with Craig Parry and Anthony Summers.