Griffin takes early lead at Aussie Open

28 year old Victorian Matthew Griffin leads after the opening round of the 2010 Australian Open at the Lakes Golf course in Sydney, his 7 under par 65 in the superb morning conditions leaving him one shot ahead of the Queenslander, John Senden, who put together the best round of the afternoon group.

Senden holed a 20 foot putt at the last for birdie to complete his round of 70 while Victorian Alistair Presnell is alone in third place after his morning round of 67.

Dire predictions following yesterday's cancelled Pro Am, which pointed to the tournament possibly not starting on time proved unfounded as the overnight rain eased to just showers and then to clear skies and strengthening winds. The free draining soils of The Lakes Golf Club played their role and there was no delay to the first groups who teed off on schedule at 7.00am.

John Daly, one of those out in the first few groups of the day, paid homage to the recovery of the golf course from the deluge on Tuesday evening. "About 9.00 o'clock last night I wondered whether we would even play this morning," said the American. "When I arrived at the golf course and saw the fairway mowers going I was amazed that they were even cutting the fairways. The drainage here is very impressive." Daly recorded a round of 69.

Griffin, who returned only last week from an unsuccessful tilt at Stage Two of the PGA Tour School in California was delighted to have regained form after missing the cut by one at the Australian Masters and then being unable to graduate to the Final Stage of Qualifying in the US.

Griffin had a friend from University the bag today, having lost good friend and regular caddy Peter Beck a month or so ago. Beck passed away in October. "The best way for me to honour what Peter did for my career is to go forward with it," he said.

"This is the third round I have played here. I came here in April to just to get a look at the course and a feel for it. I then played a practice round on Tuesday and of course we were washed out yesterday.

"Given the weather we have had the course played fantastically today. If the greens firmed up a little tomorrow they would be really good. They are a little slower than a traditional Australian Open pace but they are a really smooth roll, which is the important thing."

Griffin is a talented young player who represented Australia at the Eisenhower Trophy before turning professional in late 2008 at the relatively older age of 26. Importantly he had gained a degree in accountancy prior to turning professional giving him added security as he headed into the uncertainties of a career in professional. Just a week or so after turning professional he finished runner up in his very first professional event at the West Australian PGA Championship and he was on his way.

He has been helped along the way with both financial and logistical support by the Australian Institute of Sport's bridging programme designed to aid amateurs in their formative years in the professional ranks but before long he will be more than capable of looking after himself.

"Having the support of Drummond Golf and the AIS has been huge. I have access to full coaching, physios, trainers and psychologists and I think that has helped me develop a little quicker," he added.

John Senden's 20 foot putt at the final hole edged him into outright second position. "It was a good way to finish the round today. I struck the ball well and knocked a few in," he said soon after his round.

Senden had Karrie Webb's caddie Mike Patterson on the bag and the combination has made a good start to their newly re-formed working relationship.

"My caddy Josh lives in Austin in Texas. He and his wife have just had a baby and so it just worked out. Karrie is done for the year and so the timing was just right. Mikey caddied for me back in the 1990's. We haven't seen each other for quite a while but he was available and it is going well.

"My game has felt good the last couple of months - since the PGA really. I have started to work some stuff out during the fall Series and the Fed Ex and am looking forward to building on that confidence over the next couple of weeks.

"I like the golf course. I think it suits the eye a lot better off the tee. The greens have a lot of challenging slopes out there and it is a true test of golf out there now."

Presnell appears to have taken a lot from a two week break following the Australian Masters where he lead after the opening day but fell in the heap over the closing 54 holes. He had reached the point that he was sick of golf having played 12 consecutive weeks in an attempt to finish inside the Nationwide Tour's top 25 and made the decision not to play the Final Stage of USPGA Tour qualifying.

"I know you should not give up a spot at Tour School but 12 weeks in a row and my game was not very good, said the current Victorian PGA Champion. "If I had played well at the Masters I definitely have been there and had it been in California I would have been there but having played three ordinary rounds at the Masters and playing 12 weeks in row I needed a break. I feel a lot better about my game this week."

The large group at 4 under and sharing 4th position includes Marc Leishman, Stuart Appleby, Rod Pampling, Peter Senior and Geoff Ogilvy and so many of this country's leading players are already very much in the mix.

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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