Thursday, December 04, 2008

COOLUM, Australia (AP) — Australian Paul Sheehan birdied the 18th hole early Friday to finish the first round with a 6-under-par 66 for a share of the lead at the storm-delayed Australian PGA championship.

Sheehan and New Zealand's Tim Wilkinson, who completed his first round Thursday before a thunderstorm hit the Hyatt Regency resort course, have a one-stroke lead over four players including 2006 U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy.

Ogilvy's fellow Australian Matthew Goggin and New Zealanders Richard Lee and Michael Long also shot 67s. Sheehan, Goggin and Long were among 78 golfers forced to complete their first rounds Friday due to the storm suspension.

Tim Clark of South Africa and Australians Peter Wilson and Peter Nolan had 68s.

Sheehan was scheduled to tee off for his second round Friday about an hour after he completed his first. Friday tee times were delayed about 90 minutes, and officials were hopeful of getting back on schedule despite the forecast of more thunderstorms later in the day.

Wilkinson said he was lucky to have a 7:05 a.m. tee time Thursday.

``I wanted to get off to a good start because the morning conditions were a little bit calm,'' Wilkinson said. ``If I could do that for three more days, I'd be very happy.''

John Daly of the United States, making his first appearance at Coolum since being disqualified and throwing his putter and ball in the pond in 2002, shot a 71 and was five strokes back.

``I got off to a bad start, but I came back,'' Daly said. ``I putted terribly but I'm happy with the way it went.''

Asked if he was pleased to have played well in his first appearance back, Daly said: ``Oh, yeah.''

Daly easily attracted the biggest gallery of the day - about 1,000 by the time he finished.

Wilkinson had a strong first year on the PGA Tour, finishing 92nd on the money list with earnings of $1.167 million. He had two top 10 finishes, including a tie for second at the Texas Open when he had all four rounds in the 60s.

On Thursday, Wilkinson saw the swirling winds pick up late in his round and was thankful his caddie had come prepared.

``Lucky (he) had a compass reading and book on every hole, so you know where it (the wind) is coming from,'' Wilkinson said. ``It definitely got stronger near the end.''

Ogilvy had a birdie and an eagle on his first three holes and made the turn in 32 before managing just one birdie on his final nine.

``Three under after three was a nice way to start,'' Ogilvy said. ``I played really solid on the front nine and not quite so good on the back.''

Defending champion Peter Lonard shot 70.

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