Bobby Gates, playing the Coolum resort course for the first time, shot a 3-under-par 69 yesterday to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the Australian PGA.
Another American, John Daly, had his usual problems on the layout where he had one of his most famous career meltdowns in 2002 when he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, after throwing his ball and putter into an 18th-hole greenside pond. Daly shot 83 yesterday and missed the cut.
Gates had a two-round total of 11-under 133, one better than China’s Liang Wenchong (68) and Australian John Senden (65).
Defending champion Robert Allenby shot 68 and was five strokes behind Gates, who will make his US PGA tour debut next year after finishing 16th on the Nationwide tour this year.
“It was kind of a rough start, I’d never teed off at 6:30am, so maybe I wasn’t awake yet,” Gates said yesterday.
“I birdied 10, bogeyed 11 after a bad 8-iron into the green, birdied 12, but had bad tee shots on 13 and 14, misjudging some wind, and bogeyed both of those. But after that, I played well,” he said. “The winds were quite different, the greens are getting firm. So I have gained a bit of confidence going into the weekend, and I’ve had the luxury of exploring the course and knowing where not to be.”
Gates said his motivation to do well at Coolum comes from the tough Australian competition.
“This is one of the national championships down here and it’s a way for the Australian guys to showcase that they’re some of the best players in the world,” Gates said. “So to come down here [I] can see how my game stacks up with them.”
“I know they’re all playing well because it’s on their home turf so it makes me want to try and play harder because I know I have to try and keep up with them,” he said.
Geoff Ogilvy, winner of last week’s Australian Open, shot 69 and was six strokes behind Gates. Adam Scott shot 75 after an opening 73 and missed the cut.
Daly had nines of 43 and 40, including a triple bogey, three double bogeys, three bogeys and one birdie. Daly refused to speak to media after his round.
Daly’s putter appeared to be part of the issue — he forgot his new putter in his hotel room at the resort. His girlfriend did not arrive with it from their room before Daly teed off, consigning Daly to yesterday’s round with his old, but not preferred, putter.