MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — South Africa’s Tim Clark waited out a three-hour suspension because of a severe thunderstorm to shoot a 5-under 67 for a share of the first-round lead in the Australian Masters.
Australian Scott Hend was in the clubhouse at 67 when a hail-laced storm hit Huntingdale, forcing nearly 80 players off the course Thursday. When they returned, Clark, 3 under when play was suspended, birdied 15 and 16 on what he said was a “totally different course.”
“I was starting to drop shots before they called us off and I was lucky to come back out and make a few birdies,” Clark said. “It’s always tough to go out and finish off a round after such a delay, but it worked out for me.”
Chris Downes of Australia, who played the final five holes of his first round Friday morning, was third at 68, followed by Australians Anthony Brown and Michael Wright and England’s Daniel Wardrop at 69.
American John Daly shot 76.
After picking up an early shot at the par-4 fourth, Clark holed eagle putts at the par-5 seventh and 10th holes, both of which were playing downwind. But Clark bogeyed the 11th and the short par-4 13th just before the siren sounded to end play.
Long-hitting Hend also took advantage of the gusty northerly wind on the 10th to hit a 415-yard drive, leaving him with a lob wedge to the green.
“You could afford to be aggressive downwind, but into the wind you had to be cautious,” Hend said. “I needed two different games out there.”
Daly, who closed with a 62 on Sunday in the Hong Kong Open to tie for 17th, bogeyed three holes on the back nine – his first – while being followed by a large gallery.
Bogeys on his final two holes, the eighth and ninth – both into the wind – came after an eagle at the par-5 seventh lifted him within striking distance of the leaders. Three-time Masters winner Craig Parry, who played in Daly’s group, also had a 76.
“It was just so brutal; this golf course wasn’t built for the wind and the greens are so undulating that it makes it even more difficult,” Daly said. “It was hard to have a lot of confidence out there. It was more a guessing game.
“I was sitting there posing and hoping instead of knowing, and that makes it real tough. I didn’t play that bad; it was just one of those days that you’ve got to be patient and hang in there.”