Scott Strange surges to Australian PGA lead

WAYNE HEMING
Last updated 17:11 13/12/2012

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Coolum brings out strong emotions in Scott Strange who fired a flawless opening 66 to be the clubhouse leader in the Australian PGA Championship today.

A lot has happened to the West Australian over the past four years which have not only changed his outlook on life but also his priorities, and the connection is strong with the Queensland Sunshine Coast resort which hosting the PGA for the final time.

Strange felt on top of the world after capturing the Welsh Open title in November of 2008.

The breakthrough European Tour victory lifted him into the world's top 100.

Eleven days later, his world came crashing down after his sister, Natalie, died of cancer aged just 32.

A month later he played the PGA Championship at Coolum and attended a dinner by the resort's pool where Jimmy Barnes performed one of his classics.

"My sister's favourite song was Flame Trees," said Strange, barely holding back the tears after Thursday's round.

"As soon as he started singing it I had to get up and leave the table because I couldn't stop the tears."

Strange finished that tournament in third place behind Geoff Ogilvy.

Memories of his sister came flooding back again the next year when he returned to Coolum and chased home Robert Allenby in the 2009 PGA Championship.

Allenby played his final round that year wearing a pink shirt and dedicated his victory to his mother Sylvia who died from cancer earlier that year.

The loss of his sister and becoming a father for the first time to daughter Meghan have had a profound effect on 35-year-old Strange who admits he battled anger issues and gave his caddie a hard time during a difficult period in his life.

"I lost my sister to cancer a few years ago and I've had a few other problems with my mum and dad," said Strange.

"It took a while to process all that and it's even harder to deal with with that stuff when you are a long way from home."

It put a lot of things into perspective for Strange.

"I had a really good caddie and I took it out on him and did stuff you don't normally do and it just all becomes a blur."

Strange said his wife Lucinda was expecting their second child in January.

Winning the PGA Championship at Coolum this weekend would be very emotional.

But it's a win he'd cherish for life.

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- AAP

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