Date: March 28, 2008

Lonard one off the pace

Peter Lonard reeled off five birdies in windy conditions to trail leader Dean Wilson by one shot after the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The Australian veteran, who played the back nine first, made a good start with birdies on 15 and 18 before coming home with further birdies on one, three and five for a 67. He is level with Americans Briny Baird and Chez Reavie. Steve Elkington also had a strong opening round, shooting a four-under 69 to take a share of fifth place alongside Vaughn Taylor, Jay Williamson and Cameron Beckman. Woody Austin, Joe Durant, John Mallinger, Harrison Frazar, Steve Flesch, Patrick Sheehan, Troy Matteson and Nicholas Thompson are one shot back at three-under. Elkington, who was a consultant on the design of the Louisiana course, said: “I think this is the best conditioned course we&aposve played on tour this year and the best set of greens I&aposve seen in maybe four or five years on tour.” Wilson, meanwhile, fired four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine on his way to a six-under 66. In search of his second win on the PGA Tour, Wilson missed the cut in five of his first eight starts this season. “I&aposve struggled a little bit,” Wilson told reporters after his round. “I took a couple weeks off and just went home and tried to clear my brain and just play golf rather than maybe sit on the range and fiddle with my swing. I think that helped.” Of the other Australasians in the field, Nathan Green and New Zealander Tim Wilkinson are at one-under and Brett Rumford is even-par. Rod Pampling and Mathew Goggin fired one-over 73s, while Mark Hensby, Stephen Leaney, Matt Jones, Nick Flanagan and John Senden are two-over. Jason Day struggled to a three-over 75, while Steve Allan had a shocking 79 to be seven-over and second-last in the 144-man field.