AUSTRALIAN PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA
Sergio Garcia withstood two rain delays and his earliest career starting time for a 5-under 67 and was a stroke behind the leaders at the Australian PGA Championship. Adam Bland, who bogeyed his final hole, and fellow Australian Jordan Zunic, who chipped in for eagle on his last, shared the first-round lead Thursday after afternoon starts. “I think we definitely had the better side of the draw today,” Bland said after his 66. “The conditions were perfect. The greens were soft so we could attack.” Garcia was in a five-way tie for third with Australians Marc Leishman, Peter Senior, Daniel Nisbet and Michael Wright. Masters champion Garcia, starting on the 10th hole at 6:10 a.m. at Royal Pines and in a group with Adam Scott, had three birdies over his final seven holes. Scott, playing with a long-handled putter, was 1 over through 16 holes before birdieing his final two for a 71. Scott used a broomstick putter when he won the Masters in 2013, but switched to a short putter after a ban on anchoring the putter against the body began in 2016.
MAURITIUS OPEN BEL OMBRE, MAURITIUS
Arjun Atwal began with a course-record 62 despite the Indian having no time for a practice round at the Mauritius Open, firing seven birdies and an eagle on his first look at the layout for a four-shot lead. Atwal’s first-round performance came after he arrived in Mauritius in a hurry because of commitments as Team Asia captain for the EurAsia Cup in January. He was still in superb form with the putter to race to 9 under par on the opening day, already well clear of five players who started with 66s and are tied for second on 5 under. They are Miguel Tabuena, Adilson da Silva, Ockie Strydom, Sebastian Heisele and Louis de Jager.