Han's early brilliance at Coolum

The opening round of the 2009 Australian PGA Championship presented by Coca Cola got underway in perfect conditions this morning at the revised Hyatt Regency Coolum layout and although much of the talk preceding the event was on a strengthened golf course, one man did not find it that way early on day one.

Korean golfer Han Min-Kyu, here as a member of the One Asia Tour, made a blistering start with birdies at 6 of his first eight holes and although he bogeyed his 8th and 9th holes he bounced back with five birdies in his next six holes for a course record equalling round of 62 to take the early lead.

Eleven birdies was a blistering start and Han knew it.

"It felt like I was in heaven. This is not an easy course and a very good course."

His round set a new course record for the recently christened layout where five or the original holes have been eliminated and replaced and relocated back nearer the resort centre.

Han is a 26 year old Korean who moved to the US at the age of 16 to learn the game. He has played professionally for five years and plays the Korean Tour. He missed the cut last week at the Australian Open, another event under the One Asia banner, but is clearly a much better player than that.

Ryan Haller bounced back from one of his most disappointing moments in golf a few weeks ago when he produced an opening round of 66 to be at five under and four behind the lead.

Three weeks ago Haller stumbled over the closing holes of the third stage of Japan Golf Tour Q-School. Consecutive double bogeys to finish in that cost him a chance at advancing to the Final Stage and perhaps securing his future there.

"I was devastated," said the now Brisbane-based North Queenslander. "I enjoyed playing in Japan and so it was tough. It is however good to get off to a good start here finally."

Matt Griffin was one of the first into the clubhouse, his 4 under par round of 67 further enhancing the reputation he has established in his rookie season in professional golf. Griffin narrowly missed advancing to the Final Stage of PGA Tour qualifying but last week consolidated his position in Asia by finishing in 10th position at the final event of their season. He retained his card there by finishing 63rd on their money list.

Also in the clubhouse with a round of 67 before the afternoon field got underway was the West Australian Scott Strange, the winner of the European Tour's Volvo China Open and the Wales Open in the past eighteen months. Strange is a quiet achiever and has again snuck under the radar to be in the mix again this week.

Another to finish at 4 under 67 was the Queenslander Andrew Dodt who is an impressive emerging talent. Dodt, who hails from Gatton west of Brisbane, has just completed his second season in Asia where he continues to make steady progress.

Adam Scott recovered from a mid-round hiccup to be at 3 under and keeps his hopes alive of a significant double in Australian golf.

"I got off to a good start but did not keep it going. I feel like it could have been much better."

"The wind moved around during our round always from the north but from different angles, added Scott. "I have only played the new holes a couple of times and they were the ones where I had trouble so I might have to rethink my strategy on them," he added referring to several missed fairways.

Scott three putted from just off the green at the last but has made a solid if unspectacular start.

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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