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Now healthy, Sim leads Australian PGA

By DENNIS PASSA
Associated Press

COOLUM, Australia – Australia’s Michael Sim shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over J.B. Holmes and three others after the first round of the Australian PGA Championship.

The 23-year-old Sim, whose rookie season on the PGA Tour this year was delayed by a stress fracture in his back, teed off in the first group of the day at 6:15 a.m.

Sim went out in 4-under 32 after making birdies on three of the last four holes of the front nine and a 15-foot putt for par on nine.

“It was a terrific round,” said Sim, whose missed the cut in 2005 when he last played the Hyatt Regency resort course.

Holmes and Australians Craig Parry, Richard Green and Peter Lonard shot 66s. Adam Scott and David Smail opened with 67s, Rory Sabbatini was in a large group at 68, and defending champion Nick O’Hern shot 70.

Most of the leading players – Lonard and Sabbatini were the exceptions – had morning starts, when light cloud cover and a lack of wind led to perfect scoring conditions.

Sim, who moved to Australia from Scotland when he was 5, was hitting everything left on the practice range Wednesday before his coach, David Milne, made changes to his grip.

“The way I was hitting it on the range, I would have taken 7 under straight away,” Sim said. “It was just pulling a little bit and my coach sort of changed my grip on my left hand.”

Sim’s first season on the PGA Tour was anything but smooth. After getting his 2007 card in late 2006 via a top-25 finish on the Nationwide Tour, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his spine while preparing to play in last November’s Australian Open.

He was forced to take nearly four months off, and didn’t begin play this year until April, playing 17 PGA Tour tournaments overall and earning just under $400,000.

He didn’t pick up a club during his time off and continues to undergo rehabilitation and core stomach muscle conditioning.

Sim has a PGA Tour medical extension for next year, which gives him five tournaments to earn $385,000. The Australian must match the money earned this year by Mathias Gronberg, whose at $785,000 was 125th on the money list, the last position allowing a player to keep his card for 2008.

“Probably my first tournament will be Pebble Beach, virtually mid-February,” Sim said. “When my time comes up, I’ve got to play well.”

Parry, who played in Japan this year after a lengthy career on the PGA Tour, said he putted well, but still missed three putts from under 4 feet.

“The greens were pretty hard today, not really holding, which is unusual for this course,” Parry said. “I’d like the wind to pick up and knock a few guys out of contention.”

Holmes was married last week. His wife, Sara, followed him around the course Thursday. The American only pulled out his driver three times, including on the par-5 15th, which he eagled.

“A cut driver down the bottom of the hill, 8-iron to about 15 feet, and ran it right over the edge for eagle,” Holmes said.

He said it’s not necessary for him to hit his driver frequently here.

“The course kind of puts everybody in the same spot,” Holmes said. “It takes a bit of (my) advantage away, but I’ll still go out and play well.”

Ryan Moore was in contention before taking a 9 on the par-five 12th, going from 5 under on the day to 1 under.

Moore’s tee shot went into heavy rough, forcing him to take a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie. But he hacked out twice more from the same area, missed the green with his sixth shot and two-putted for a quadruple bogey.

Scores with relation to par from the first round of the Australian PGA Championship, played Dec. 6 at the par-72, 6,851-yard Hyatt Regency Resort Course in Coolum, Australia:

1. Michael Sim 65

-7 2. Craig Parry 66

-6 2. Richard Green 66

-6 2. J.B Holmes 66

-6 2. Peter Lonard 66

-6 6. David Smail 67

-5 6. Adam Scott 67

-5 8. Vernon Sexton-Finck 68

-4 8. Adam Bland 68

-4 8. Aaron Townsend 68

-4 8. Ewan Porter 68

-4 8. Michael McGrath 68

-4 8. Michael Long 68

-4 8. Gavin Coles 68

-4 8. David Lutterus 68

-4 8. Rory Sabbatini 68

-4 17. Scott Laycock 69

-3 17. Matthew Ecob 69

-3 17. David Diaz 69

-3 17. Ben Burge 69

-3 17. Steven Bowditch 69

-3 17. John Senden 69

-3 17. Nick Flanagan 69

-3 17. Marc Leishman 69

-3 17. Scott Sterling 69

-3 17. Mahal Pearce 69

-3 17. Marcus Fraser 69

-3 17. David McKenzie 69

-3 29. Ryan Haller 70

-2 29. Steven Conran 70

-2 29. Leigh McKechnie 70

-2 29. Lucas Parsons 70

-2 29. Terry Pilkadaris 70

-2 29. Jason Gore 70

-2 29. Nick O'Hern 70

-2 29. Peter Wilson 70

-2 29. Peter Senior 70

-2 29. Kyung-Nam Kang 70

-2 29. Scott Gardiner 70

-2 29. Michael Brennan 70

-2 29. Michael Curtain 70

-2 29. Anthony Summers 70

-2 29. Brad Kennedy 70

-2 29. Cameron Percy 70

-2 45. Lucas Bates 71

-1 45. Craig Scott 71

-1 45. Luke Hickmott 71

-1 45. Ben Bunny 71

-1 45. Dean Kinney 71

-1 45. Tatsuhiko Takahashi 71

-1 45. Tom Davis 71

-1 45. Julian Reynolds 71

-1 45. Rodney Booth 71

-1 45. Andrew Martin 71

-1 45. Aron Price 71

-1 45. Matthew Millar 71

-1 45. Nathan Green 71

-1 45. Jarrod Moseley 71

-1 45. Toshinori Muto 71

-1 45. Scott Draper 71

-1 45. Andrew Tschudin 71

-1 62. Bradley Iles 72

E 62. Steve Alker 72

E 62. Chris Campbell 72

E 62. Stephen Leaney 72

E 62. Andrew Tampion 72

E 62. Hyung-Tae Kim 72

E 62. Anthony Brown 72

E 62. Paul Gow 72

E 62. Andrew Dodt 72

E 62. Marcus Cain 72

E 62. Wayne Perske 72

E 62. Scott Adland 72

E 62. Sang-Moon Bae 72

E 62. Simon Furneaux 72

E 62. Peter O'Malley 72

E 62. James Nitties 72

E 62. Paul Sheehan 72

E 62. Brad Lamb 72

E 62. Greg Chalmers 72

E 62. Jarrod Lyle 72

E 82. Peter Mark Nolan 73
+ 1 82. Josh Carmichael 73
+ 1 82. Ricky Schmidt 73
+ 1 82. Heath Reed 73
+ 1 82. Andrew Bonhomme 73
+ 1 82. Wade Ormsby 73
+ 1 82. Brett Rumford 73
+ 1 82. Takuya Taniguchi 73
+ 1 82. Paul Marantz 73
+ 1 82. Steven Jeffress 73
+ 1 82. Ryan Moore 73
+ 1 82. Kim Felton 73
+ 1 82. Brent O'Donoghue 73
+ 1 82. Mitchell Tasker 73
+ 1 82. Clint Rice 73
+ 1 97. Darren Spencer 74
+ 2 97. Wayne Rostron 74
+ 2 97. Terry Price 74
+ 2 97. Brandt Snedeker 74
+ 2 97. Darren Kapusi 74
+ 2 97. Shaun Piper 74
+ 2 97. Chris Downes 74
+ 2 97. Chris Gray 74
+ 2 97. Robin Hodgetts 74
+ 2 97. Wayne Grady 74
+ 2 97. Murray Lott 74
+ 2 108. Adam Crawford 75
+ 3 108. Matthew Ballard 75
+ 3 108. Paul Spargo 75
+ 3 108. Ashley Hall 75
+ 3 108. Andrew Pitt 75
+ 3 108. Michael Wright 75
+ 3 108. Peter Fowler 75
+ 3 108. Neven Basic 75
+ 3 108. Mark Hensby 75
+ 3 108. Anthony Painter 75
+ 3 108. Won Lee 75
+ 3 119. Ed Stedman 76
+ 4 119. Alistair Presnell 76
+ 4 119. Jason Norris 76
+ 4 119. Lee Hunt 76
+ 4 119. Brad Shilton 76
+ 4 119. Aaron Pike 76
+ 4 119. Euan Walters 76
+ 4 119. Brendan Chant 76
+ 4 119. Steven Jones 76
+ 4 119. Kevin Stadler 76
+ 4 119. Tigh Van Leeuwen 76
+ 4 119. Justin Smith 76
+ 4 119. Nathan Kent 76
+ 4 119. Aaron Black 76
+ 4 133. Yoshikazu Haku 77
+ 5 133. Eric Egloff 77
+ 5 133. Martin Doyle 77
+ 5 133. Tim Wise 77
+ 5 133. Kris Barkway 77
+ 5 133. Shayne Hayman 77
+ 5 133. Ben Wharton 77
+ 5 140. Doug Holloway 78
+ 6 140. Tristan Lambert 78
+ 6 140. Henry Epstein 78
+ 6 140. Tatsuhiko Ichihara 78
+ 6 140. Paul Donahoo 78
+ 6 140. Adam Porker 78
+ 6 140. Tony McFadyean 78
+ 6 140. Stuart Appleby 78
+ 6 140. Peter Freeland 78
+ 6 140. Shane Baxter 78
+ 6 150. Robert Curtis 79
+ 7 150. Michael Light 79
+ 7 150. Li Chao 79
+ 7 153. Glenn Joyner 80
+ 8 154. Jens Nilsson 82
+ 10 155. Andrew McKenzie 83
+ 11 156. Kurt Barnes 85
+ 13

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