Tour News

Gates moves clear at Australian PGA

(Photo: Anthony Powter)
Joint first round leader, Robert (Bobby) Gates, leads the Australian PGA Championship at Hyatt Regency Coolum on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, a second round of 69 leaving him at 11 under par and one ahead of Chinese star Liang Wen-chong and local hope John Senden.

Gates played early on day two, his opening nine holes a roller coaster of birdies and bogeys before a birdie at his 10th hole and eagle at his 12th moved him to 10 under and into a share of the lead with Liang Wenchong who was playing ahead of him on the golf course. Gates would add one more birdie at the par three 6th (his 15th) to take the outright lead and 40 minutes later he was in the clubhouse with the lead.

Gates won the New Zealand Open earlier this year and as a result of that and his 3rd place finish the following week at the Moonah Classic he currently sits in third position on the PGA Tour of Australasia money list. He trails current leader Geoff Ogilvy by $105,000 and a win this week and the accompanying $270,000 would see him take out the Von Nida Trophy for the winner of the money list.

Gates is now a PGA Tour player and will play his first ever event as a cardholder in Honolulu in January. He is here to get his game in shape for the big test ahead but he has a genuine chance of adding the Australian PGA Championship to the New Zealand title he won in February. If he was able to do so and take out the money list title he would have starts in several significant world class events next year in addition to those he plays on the USPGA Tour.

Liang is currently in second position on the One Asia Tour's Order of Merit but with current leader, Y.E. Yang, not playing this week and therefore falling short of the minimum required events.

Liang is a lock to win the money list there. He has won two events on the One Asia Tour this season, had several good finishes in Japan and very importantly for his credentials for this weekend's chances he finished 8th behind Martin Kaymer at the US PGA Championship.

Senden's game is on the rise of late after finishing off the US season with a run of solid performances. He then played very well last week at the Australian Open and arrived here with many considering him to be one of the men to beat.

"This is probably the best I have felt around this golf course in a while," said the Brisbane golfer.

"I felt good from early on today. I warmed up really well this morning and am coming off a good day yesterday and a good week last week. I didn't actually hit the ball well yesterday but today I kind of struck it nicely, had lost of chances and took advantage of a few of them also.

"It would be lovely to win here in front of family and friends. It is a little bit of added pressure but I have learnt to try and enjoy that more so now than was the case previously. I need to stay focused and having the Australian PGA Championship would be great."

Newcastle's Aaron Townsend, who has just returned from a disappointing Japan Tour School campaign, made a good start yesterday an when he added three birdies in his first five holes today he was back in business. At 9 under he is just two behind the lead and while he has seldom featured in events at this level he has been a previous winner of events such as the NSW Open and NSW PGA Championship.

Canberra's Chris Campbell, Auckland based Australian Peter Fowler and former PGA Tour winner, Andre Stolz, are all at 8 under and just three behind the leader while Fowler's fellow 51 year old Peter Senior is one shot further back.

Tournament heavyweights Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy are at 6 under and 5 under respectively and certainly not yet out of it. One player who is out of it however is Adam Scott who was never able to recover from his quadruple bogey 8 early in yesterday's round and missed the cut.

As the wind strengthened in the late morning the cutline which at one stage was looking like 1 or 2 under par slipped to even par. 71 players have made it through to the weekend.

There is little doubt that those players who had the late draw on Thursday and the early one today had the advantage, the leading eight players at the end of 36 holes confirming that theory.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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