Date: May 11, 2007

Lonard in touch

Australian Peter Lonard is just two strokes from the lead after the opening round of The Players Championship at the TPC at Sawgrass in Florida. Lonard opened with a three-under 69 to grab outright fourth place after 18 holes, with local Phil Mickelson and South African Rory Sabbatini sharing top billing after matching 67s and American Chris Di Marco third on minus four. Lonard&aposs compatriot Rod Pampling is a further stroke back in equal fifth place alongside Americans Tom Lehman and Jason Gore and Swede Carl Pettersson, while Nathan Green also broke par with a 71 to be tied for ninth. Mathew Goggin and Aaron Baddeley both finished the day square with the card to share 17th place, while veteran Steve Elkington and Australian Open champion John Senden are joint 28th after 73s. World No.4 Adam Scott had a disappointing start along with Victorian trio Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy, with all four signing for rounds of 74, while Kiwis Craig Perks and Michael Campbell shot 75, Nick O&aposHern carded a 76 and Stephen Leaney a 77. Lonard didn&apost have the ideal start to his day when he bogeyed the first hole, but he recovered the stroke immediately at two and went on to also birdie the sixth, ninth and last holes to move into contention. Mickelson started well with birdies at the 10th and 11th holes but gave one of the shots back at the 14th before another birdie to the turn and three more on the front nine saw him to a share of the lead. Sabbatini actually got to six-under thanks to birdies at the 11th, 13th, 18th, second, third and sixth holes after also starting on the back nine, but a bogey at the seventh cost him the outright lead. Scores after the first round of The Players Championship (par 72): -5: Rory Sabbatini, Phil Mickelson -4: Chris DiMarco -3: Peter Lonard (Australia) -2: Rod Pampling (Australia), Tom Lehman, Carl Pettersson, Jason Gore -1: Nathan Green (Australia), Jeff Quinney, KJ Choi, Rich Beem, Brian Davis, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, JP Hayes EV: Mathew Goggin (Australia), Aaron Baddeley (Australia) +1: Steve Elkington (Australia), John Senden (Australia) +2: Robert Allenby (Australia), Stuart Appleby (Australia), Adam Scott (Australia), Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) +3: Craig Perks (NZ), Michael Campbell (NZ) +4: Nick O&aposHern (Australia) +5: Stephen Leaney (Australia)