Date: August 08, 2008

Strange in the hunt at PGA

Australians Scott Strange and John Senden are among a group of 18 players yet to complete their first rounds after darkness descended upon Oakland Hills to bring an early end to the opening day of the US PGA Championship. Strange, the 31-year-old who claimed his first European Tour victory at the Wales Open in June, was one-over after 15 holes to remain in touch with co-leaders Robert Karlsson and Jeev Milka Singh after a frustrating, weather-delayed day. Karlsson and Milka Singh were safely in the clubhouse when play ended, having made the early running with opening rounds of two-under-par 68, one stroke clear of Sergio Garcia and American trio Sean O&aposHair, Ken Duke and Billy Mayfair. Argentina&aposs Andres Romero was also two-under, having played 16 holes of his first round – with he and the others still to finish to resume at 8am (11pm AEST), with the rest of the field set to begin their scheduled second rounds on time. Rod Pampling was the best of the Australasian contingent, sitting in a group of players tied for eighth place two shots off the lead at even-par. Compatriots Aaron Baddeley, Richard Green, Brendan Jones and Steve Elkington are one stroke further back at one-over. World No.8 Adam Scott has had a disastrous opening, carding a seven-over 77, as did New Zealand&aposs Mark Brown. Sweden&aposs Karlsson, a top-10 finisher in each of the first three majors of 2008, bounced back from an opening double-bogey at the par-four first hole to birdie five of the next seven holes and added another at the 11th before bogeys at the par-four 14th and 15th holes sent him back to two under for his round. “It was great,” Karlsson said after finishing his first round on Thursday. “Actually I played really, really well.” “Early in the morning, the greens were very soft and from when we played the practice rounds and today they were firm, and I went for the pin at the first – silly boy.” “But then I played really well on the front nine and got the putter going. I mean, the greens were absolutely perfect, so once I rolled a couple in, just kept going, so it was good.” Singh, from India, also began with bogey at the first and then eagled the par-five second on his way to a 68 that also featured three birdies and two additional bogeys. Karlsson and Garcia are part of a strong and much-hyped European contingent at Oakland Hills, bidding to break a winless streak dating back to Tommy Armour of Scotland in 1930. Hopes that the 78-year drought can end this weekend have been boosted by the fact that the par-70, 7,395-yard course near Detroit played host to Europe&aposs landslide victory over the United States in the 2004 Ryder Cup. Eight of the team that won in formidable style four years ago are back, but it was a mixed bag for the European heroes. Colin Montgomerie shot a 76 and Lee Westwood, who tied for second at last weekend&aposs WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, endured a nightmare opening day with a first-round 77. Anthony Kim, a two-time PGA Tour winner this year in his second season, returned from a disappointing Bridgestone Invitational to card a level-par 70 -two shots off the lead and in a large group of players also including world No.2 and 2005 champion Phil Mickelson, the bookmakers&apos 10-1 pre-tournament favourite in the absence of defending champion Tiger Woods. Round 1 Results from the US PGA Championships -2: Robert Karlsson 68, Jeev Milkha Singh 68, Andres Romero (16) -1: Ken Duke 69, Sergio Garcia 69, Billy Mayfair 69, Sean O&aposHair 69 E: Anthony Kim 70, Ryan Moore 70, Phil Mickelson 70, Rod Pampling (Australia) 70, Charlie Wi 70, Brian Gay 70, Michael Allen 70, Angel Cabrera 70 Also: +1: Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 71, Richard Green (Australia) 71, Brendan Jones (Australia) 71, Steve Elkington (Australia) 71, Scott Strange (Australia) (15) +3: Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 73, Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 73, Stuart Appleby (Australia) (13) +4: Peter Lonard (Australia) 74, Nick O Hern (Australia) 74 +5: John Senden (Australia) (17) +6: Robert Allenby (Australia) 76 +7: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 77, Adam Scott (Australia) 77 +11: Matthew Goggin (Australia) 81 *Play suspended due to darkness. Numbers in brackets indicate the hole the player was on at the time.