Immelman Lonard Among Heineken Leaders

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VICTORIA, Australia -- Peter Lonard, Steve Webster and Trevor Immelman all posted rounds of 6-under-par 65 on Thursday to share the lead during the first round of the Heineken Classic.
 
The first round was suspended for darkness and several groups need to return to the Composite Course at The Royal Melbourne Golf Club Thursday afternoon at 3:20 p.m. ET.
 
The start of the opening round was delayed 2 1/2 hours due to some weather- related problems. Heavy rain the last 24 hours rendered the course unplayable so the course staff needed the time to fix the course. Also, traffic problems resulted from the storms and players were having a difficult time getting to the course on time.
 
John Bickerton, Brad Lamb and Camilo Villegas are knotted in fourth place at 5-under-par 66.
 
Ernie Els' bid to become the sixth person in golf history to win the same tournament four years in a row did not get off to a good start. He carded a 1-over-par 72 and is part of a group tied for 70th.
 
'It was just one of those days. I never got going,' said Els, the No. 3 player in the world.
 
Lonard, who tied for fourth place last week at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on the PGA Tour, teed off on the back nine and wasted little time in breaking into red figures. He birdied the 11th and 12th holes, then added a birdie at the par-4 17th.
 
Lonard continued his steady play on the second nine. He birdied the second, fifth and ninth holes to polish off his bogey-free round and grab a share of the lead.
 
'I did not think I played great today but I got it around,' admitted Lonard. 'I put the ball in the right position, holed some putts, hit some good wedges close, particularly early on. It was that sort of day.'
 
Webster played the course from the first and tallied three birdies in his first five holes. He collected his fourth birdie of the round at the par-5 ninth and seemed poised to go even lower on the back side.
 
The 30-year-old posted back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12, but his run to a solo first was halted with a bogey at the 14th. Webster reclaimed the lost stroke at the 433-yard, par-4 17th to grab a piece of first,
 
'I played really poorly here last year,' said Webster, who is winless on the European Tour. 'I looked at the golf course and I was determined to play half decent this week, to try and get in the mix of things. I just played really nicely today and got off to a great start.'
 
Immelman was the first player to get to 6 under par as he caught fire on his opening nine, the back side at Royal Melbourne. He birdied six of his last seven holes for a front-nine 29.
 
Immelman missed a 10-footer for birdie at the first, but did birdie Nos. 2 and 5. Problems loomed for the South African as a mis-clubbed 5-iron came up short of the green at the 200-yard, par-3 eighth.
 
'I don't know what I was trying to do,' admitted Immelman. 'I had to carry it at least 200 yards, and then you've got uphill and the wind was not helping. I normally hit my five 200 so I really don't know what I was thinking.'
 
Immelman made double bogey and fell into a tie for the lead.
 
'It could have been lower but I am not going to sit here and complain,' said Immelman. 'Like I said, 65 around this course I will take it any day in any tournament.'
 
Nick Dougherty, who won last week's Caltex Masters, shot a 3-under 68 and is tied for seventh place with Colin Montgomerie, Adam Crawford, Simon Dyson, Mark Foster, Jarrod Lyle, James Nitties and Simon Wakefield. Matt Hendrix is three-under through 15 holes.
 
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