Appleby leads windy Australian Open

Stuart Appleby lines up his last putt to finish the second round of the Australian Open.

Stuart Appleby lines up his last putt to finish the second round of the Australian Open.

SYDNEY – Stuart Appleby shot a second consecutive 6-under 66 to take a commanding lead at the Australian Open on Friday.

Appleby played just two holes before a near six-hour suspension due to gusting wind on the oceanside links-style New South Wales Golf Course.

By the time Appleby returned and finished his round, overnight co-leader Scott Hend had dropped two shots after three holes and second place was taken over by Australian Peter Wilson, who was at 5-under, seven behind Appleby.

Some golfers were not expected to start their second rounds until 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the round to be completed Saturday morning before the 36-hole cut was made. Among the late starters was John Daly, who opened with a 72 on Thursday.

Appleby had five birdies, a bogey and an eagle on the par-5 18th, which was his ninth hole Friday.

Play was stopped Friday morning after balls were blown off greens by the wind, before most groups had teed off.

“It’s nothing to do with the golf course,” tournament director Trevor Herden said. “No matter where you were today you wouldn’t be able to play with those wind gusts.”

It was the third time in eight years that the country’s most prestigious tournament had been interrupted because putting became impossible.

“The powers that be didn’t get it right,” Appleby said. “It unfortunately seems to be an Australian Open tradition.”

The wind helped Australian Brett Rumford make a quintuple-bogey eight at the par-3 second after his tee shot settled near the flag.

As Rumford prepared to putt, a gust of wind blew his ball off the green. After consulting two rules officials Rumford decided to chip it back on, from where he three-putted. He was subsequently penalized one shot for addressing a moving ball and two more for not replacing it, and shot 78.

Peter O’Malley, in contention after an opening round of 69, watched while his ball rolled from tap-in range to 10 feet away on the 13th immediately before play was suspended.

“As far as putting goes it was a lottery,” O’Malley said. “You can’t really stand up on the greens and putt. You don’t know if you can ground the putter ... because you don’t know whether it’s going to roll again.”

Greg Chalmers, runner-up to Tiger Woods at the Australian Masters in Melbourne last month, agreed.

“When you’ve got balls moving on greens ... that’s hard to take when it costs you money,” said Chalmers, who shot 72 Friday and is 10 strokes behind Appleby. “There are a lot of guys whose tournament has been kicked out the door.”

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