Thursday, 22 November 2007

Australian Robert Allenby set the early pace at the MasterCard Masters at the Huntingdale Golf Club after an opening five under par 67 established a one stroke lead over England’s Peter Baker and Swede Fredrik Anderson-Hed.

Melbourne-born Allenby, a two-time winner of the MasterCard Masters, came flying out of the blocks with three birdies to start his round after starting at the tenth and when he birdied the 14th as well, he stood four under through five holes.

His only blemish came at the 17th, with a bogey five, but he got that back on the third hole. He picked up another shot at the par five seventh to finish with a 67 to be on track for his third gold jacket after his previous successes in 2003 and 2005.

The Victorian felt he could have done much better with his opportunities and was frustrated on the greens.

"I'm happy with the round, any time you have five-under around here is normally pretty good. Obviously it's fair to say I probably left five or six shots out there today. I got away to a good start, birdied the first three holes, and had several chances from then on. But I kind of lost the feel of the speed of the greens," he said.

Andersson Hed was also off in the morning, capitalising on an eagle on his first hole to post a round of 68. The 35 year old also finished off his round well with three birdies in his final four holes.

Baker was the best of the afternoon players, holding on late in the day as the southerly wind gained strength. The Englishman made all his ground early, picking up five birdies and a bogey on the front nine before coming home with nine consecutive pars.

Six players finished on three under par for the day, including Stuart Appleby. Appleby has not won on home soil since 2001 but made a positive start. He had three birdies and a bogey on his outward nine, and also picked up shots at the second and eighth. He handed a shot back on the ninth to sign for a 69.

Australians Paul Marantz, Rod Pampling and Kurt Barnes, New Zealand's Michael Long and Sweden's Daniel Chopra are the other players who finished two strokes off the lead.

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