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Gardiner becomes first Aboriginal player on PGA Tour

PGA Tour
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MOBILE, AL - NOVEMBER 10: Ben Barry of Tuscaloosa carries a stuffed Pink Panther on his shoulders as he follows Paula Creamer through her third round play in The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions at Magnolia Grove Golf Course on November 10, 2007 in Mobile, Alabama. Creamer is nicknamed the Pink Panther. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)  - 

In a tournament where other PGA Tour rookies have been stealing the headlines through the first two rounds, it may be easy for Scott Gardiner to become lost in the shuffle.

But Gardiner, who begins the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii tied for ninth, is making history with every shot at Waialae as the first player of Aboriginal descent to ever have full status on the PGA Tour.

Born to an Aboriginal mother and a Scottish father, the 36-year-old toiled for several years on the Tour with multiple close calls - 30th on the season-long money list in 2007 and 2009, 26th in 2010 - before cracking the top 25 for the first time in 2012, finishing 14th. As he embarks on his first season on the PGA Tour, Gardiner is eager to embrace the status of role model for his fans back home in Australia.

'Golf has become more popular the last 10-15 years with Tiger Woods bringing attention to the game and in turn more Aboriginal people are aware of it,' Gardiner told Australian Golf Digest before the 2013 season began. 'Hopefully I can help inspire a few others to go for a career in golf and I hope I can be a role model.'

Like tournament leaders Russell Henley and Scott Langley, Gardiner is getting his maiden season off to a hot start in Honolulu. After opening with a 2-under 68 Thursday, he made only one par across his final 10 holes Friday, a stretch that included seven birdies and an eagle, en route to a 6-under 64. Entering the weekend at 8-under 132, Gardiner finds himself six shots off the pace and in position to earn a solid payday in his first event. Even before the season began, he was aware that a hot start would be vital to his success during a shortened 2013 campaign.

'I have to make sure I get into the season early and do what I know I am capable of doing,' he said.