COOLUM, Australia – Andrew Buckle took advantage of ideal scoring conditions to shoot an 8-under-par 64 and take the early first-round lead Thursday at the Australian PGA championship.
With greens soft from recent rain and virtually no wind early, the Australian had 33 on the front nine and 31 on the more difficult back nine, including birdies on the 10th, 11th, 12th and 17th. His 5-foot downhill birdie putt on 18 stopped on the lip of the cup.
Matthew Millar, Buckle’s playing partner, and James Nitties, who just returned from an unsuccessful attempt to gain his PGA Tour card for next season, shot 67s and were three strokes back.
Adam Scott had a rough start, shooting a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 13th after beginning his round on the 10th. He put two balls in the water on the pond-lined hole and shot 40 on the back nine en route to a 73.
“I salvaged something out of a pretty ordinary 13th hole,” Scott said. “I hooked it in the water and then dropped it into a bad lie on a down slope, and then hit it fat into the water.”
Geoff Ogilvy, who won last week’s Australian Open at The Lakes in Sydney, shot 70. Defending champion Robert Allenby was a late starter in the same group as American John Daly.
Buckle has struggled since playing for two years on the PGA Tour in 2007 and 2008. He finished 72nd this year on the Nationwide Tour money list and will return to the U.S. next year in an effort to get back to the main tour,
“It’s been tough,” Buckle said. “It’s still hard for me to get my head around the fact that I might be a decent golfer. Days like today will help.”