Date: December 07, 2006
Author: Marc Fox

Nitties sizzles at Coolum

James Nitties has rekindled his relationship with the Hyatt Regency course at Coolum by shooting nine birdies in a stunning eight-under-par 64 to steal a one-shot lead at the Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship. Nitties has fond memories of playing on the Sunshine Coast after leading at the halfway and three-quarter points in 2004 in what was then only his fourth professional tournament. And even though he missed the cut in some atrocious conditions last year, he completed the front nine in 31 before turning and adding another three birdies to take the outright lead ahead of New Zealander Bradley Iles. Iles sank five birdies from his final seven holes, providing a repeat of the 2005 tournament where he carded four-under after two rounds on his professional tour debut. Four players were two shots adrift of the clubhouse leader on six-under-par. Western Australian Nick O&aposHern and Victorian Jarrod Lyle carded 66s in the morning session to keep the pressure on Nitties before Peter O&aposMalley and fellow Victorian Marc Leishman joined them in the afternoon. O&aposHern, who finished sixth in this year&aposs US Open behind compatriot Geoff Ogilvy, finished on the back of his fourth birdie of the back nine at the par-fourth ninth with Lyle following suit to post an identical score. O&aposMalley finished with three birdies, sinking a 20-foot putt at the 18th, to grab a share of second along with first-year pro Leishman who bounced back from bogeying the second. Six players finished a shot further back on 67, including 25-year-old Victorian Nigel Stivala, who was a surprise package, as well as one of the pre-tournament favourites Stuart Appleby. Appleby said on the eve of the tournament that carding five-under in each round would be enough to win and despite bogeying the par-three sixth he finished strongly to make 67. “I think I could play better than that through the tournament,” said Appleby. “I&aposm not going to have four days like that. I could easily have the same day tomorrow and shoot one or two under.” American Eric Egloff, Victorians David McKenzie and Luke Hickmott and Rod Pampling completed the tie for seventh with the Queenslander recovering from a double-bogey-seven at the 15th to sink eight birdies in his 67. Meanwhile, defending champion Robert Allenby recovered from two-over-par midway through his round to sink four straight birdies and finish on two-under. Allenby, in a group with world number four Adam Scott (even) and 2004 champion Peter Lonard (four-under) bogeyed eight, double-bogeyed 10 and almost found the water on 13 before establishing a late fight back.