Fri, Dec 10, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Allenby takes early lead

AUSTRALIAN MASTERS The defending champion shot a six-under-par 66 to lead the morning group by one shot before rain and thunderstorms stopped play


Defending champion Robert Allenby shot a six-under-par 66 yesterday in the Australian Masters at Huntingdale to take a one-shot lead over three other Australians who had completed their first rounds.

Thunderstorms and heavy rain forced play to be abandoned with 62 of the 120 starters still on the course. Australian Bradley Hughes was at 7-under after 11 holes and led those yet to finish. They will complete their first rounds early this morning.

Allenby, who won a four-man playoff last year at Huntingdale, his eighth straight overtime victory, had 10 birdies, a double-bogey -- on the par-5 seventh -- and two bogeys on the par-72 course.

"I don't ever remember having 10 bogeys around here except in a social game," Allenby said. "I was trying to be aggressive as possible. On the double-bogey, I made the wrong shot off a bunker and had to take an unplayable. But I got it back together."

"With the rain we've had the last few days, the greens are soft, a nice speed and very receptive," he said.

Craig Parry, one of the four in the playoff with Allenby last year, birdied the last five holes for his 67 to join countrymen Brad Kennedy and Richard Ball in a tie for second. Kennedy had six birdies in eight holes.

"I remember when shooting par over the closing holes was good, but five birdies? I couldn't get anything going on the front nine, but it all came together on the back," Parry said.

Americans Ricky Barnes, the former US amateur champion, and 1995 US Open champion Corey Pavin, were in a group of five at 68 that included Australian Peter Lonard.

Lonard, who has won three tournaments in a row, including the Australian Open and last week's Australia PGA championship, is trying to become the first golfer to win the Australian "Slam" that concludes with the Masters.

Jason Day, a 15-year-old Australian amateur who won the world and Australian junior titles, is also at 68.

Meanwhile, South Africa's Ernie Els set the early pace during the first round of the Dunhill Championship in Malelane, South Africa, yesterday.

The 35-year-old carded a bogey-free five-under round of 67 to take a one-stroke clubhouse lead over countryman James Kamte and England's Neil Cheetham.

Els had five birdies on a day when the expected stifling heat failed to materialize.

"I don't think I have ever teed off that early. I was woken up at 5am and there was no breakfast for us so I'm really hungry now," Els said.

Els started with a three on the par-four 10th and added four more birdies over the next eight holes for an outward nine of 32. After the turn he came home with nine straight pars. Defending champion Marcel Siem from Germany, who was paired with Els, carded a 76, which included a quadruple bogey on the par-five 18th.

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