Appleby, Hend share Australian Open lead

SYDNEY – Stuart Appleby and Scott Hend each shot 6-under 66 Thursday to share the lead at the Australian Open.

Hend, who played in ideal morning conditions Thursday at the oceanside links-style New South Wales Golf Club, had eight birdies and two bogeys.

Appleby, playing in the more difficult and windy afternoon field, could have taken the outright lead but had a three-putt bogey on the 18th.

Fellow Australians James Nitties and Peter Wilson were tied for third with 67s. Australians Adam Scott and Stephen Allan and American David Oh shot 68 each and tied for fifth.

Appleby had a poor season on the PGA Tour, finishing 137th on the money list and sinking to No. 150 in world rankings.

“I started a lot of rounds of golf really excited about what was going on and finished the day just going, ‘What happened?’,” he said. “All year I wasn’t able to get that final bit of confidence.

“I like the way I’m playing, I like the way I’m putting and I haven’t had enough of that this year.”

Hend, who has spent time in the U.S., Europe and Asia, was pleased with his early tee time.

“It’s just great to get out there when there’s hardly any wind at all and you can just play your shots,” Hend said.

Scott, attempting to win his first tournament on home soil, birdied four of his last six holes, also in the morning.

“The wind was down and it was beautiful early,” he said. “It’s nice to play this sort of course with no wind.

“I hung in there and played solid and scrambled a little bit and managed to make a score which looks pretty good to me.”

John Daly, with his weight loss at 115 pounds following a stomach-stapling procedure last year, shot 72.

American Bryce Molder shot 70 while Geoff Ogilvy and former two-time winner Aaron Baddeley had 73s.

Daly had six bogeys, four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 eighth and looked set to make the cut after failing to qualify for the weekend in all three Australian tournaments in 2008 – the Open, Masters and PGA.

Daly, who now weighs 185 pounds, impressed tournament promoter Tony Roosenburg.

“The great thing is in the olden days, or even last year, he would’ve thought, ‘Oh well, that’s another round of golf.’ Then he would’ve got into his car, gone to his room, watched television and had another hamburger,” said Roosenburg.

“What did he do now? He had some food in the players’ lounge, went to the practice fairway and is still putting as we speak.”

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