Paddison among leaders at Australian Open

DARREN WALTON
Last updated 15:03 06/12/2012
Gareth Paddison
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STRONG START: Gareth Paddison has fired a first round 68 to be up with the leaders after the first round at the Australian Open.

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Former champion John Senden has grabbed the clubhouse lead during the first round of the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney.

Fresh off his best year on the US PGA Tour, Senden collected eight birdies in a six-under-par opening round 66.

Kiwi Gareth Paddison is just two shots back on four-under.

Starting on the 10th, Paddison briefly had the outright lead after racking up four birdies in five holes, but dropped back to the pack with bogeys on the third and fifth holes, his 12th and 14th holes of the day.

Senden, the Australian No 2 and world No 38, capitalised on good scoring conditions to rebound from back-to-back bogeys on his inward nine and iced his round with consecutive birdies on his 16th and 17th holes.

He was enjoying a two-stroke buffer over English star Justin Rose, with conditions sure to be tougher for the afternoon starters as the wind picks up.

"The golf course is in beautiful shape. We had the perfect conditions this morning, teeing off at 7 o'clock," Senden said.

"It doesn't get much of a better day than it was today. The golf course, I thought, let up a lot of birdies out there.

"I felt good the whole round. I got off to a bit of a hot start so it was nice to hang on to that during the middle of the round."

Rose also made a hot start, picking up three birdies in the first four holes en route to a front-nine 32.

The world No 4 dropped his only shot of the day when he fluffed a greenside flop shot on the par-4 third, his 12th of the round.

"I decided to try and hit the high, sexy lob - that didn't really come off," Rose said.

Kim Felton (68) was also at four under alongside Rose and Paddison.

Using his broomstick putter after experimenting with a shorter blade in the lead-up, tournament favourite Adam Scott never really got going after missing a four-foot birdie attempt on his opening hole, the par-4 10th.

He made birdie on the par-5 11th, but found the trees off the tee on the 12th, then overhit his approach on the short par-4 13th into the sand to post consecutive bogeys and fall back to one-over.

A two-putt birdie on the par-4 14th had Scott back at level par but he made a meal of the 15th, dunking a rescue into the drink and then missing his approach before getting up and down for bogey.

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The British Open runner-up had a run of nine straight pars before getting back to even again with a birdie on his penultimate hole to sign off for a 72.

"I would have loved to play better, but there's 54 holes to go. That's a lot of golf to play," Scott said.

"So a course like this, just like those guys did today, you can have a good nine holes and you're right back in it."

- AAP

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