Friday, 19 March 2010
2008 Australian Masters: Day 1  (Getty Images)
2008 Australian Masters: Day 1 (Getty Images)

Florida-based Queenslander Scott Hend and South African Tim Clark are the clubhouse leaders at the Sportsbet Australian Masters after a violent electrical storm swept across Huntingdale during the first round, delaying play for almost three hours.

Hailstones, lightning and a succession of heavy showers pummelled the course not long after play was formally suspended. The weather cleared in time, however, to squeeze in another 90 minutes play.

The break was a blessing for Clark who picked up two strokes when he returned to complete his final four holes in conditions far more benign than when play was postponed.

"Obviously the wind was a lot calmer and from a different direction and the greens had softened up so it was a totally different course," Clark said.

"It was tough this morning with the wind but I was happy with how I was playing this morning, too, so overall, I'll take that score."

The highlight of Clark's earlier exploits was a pair of eagles at the 535 yard par five seventh, and the 495 yard par five tenth, both of which were playing downwind and ripe for the picking.

"I had two eagles all year on the US PGA Tour so that was quite a shock for me, but downwind they were reachable and that was where you had to make your score up on a day like this," he said.

A total of 48 players will need to complete their unfinished first rounds on Friday morning, none of which is of any great concern to Hend who signed at lunchtime for a five under 67.

He and Clark lead by two shots from Australians Anthony Brown and Michael Wright and England's Daniel Wardrop who completed rounds of 69.

Queenslander Chris Downes was three under after 12 holes when darkness forced play to be finally called off.

Out on the course early, Hend made light of a hot, swirling north wind for his 67.

Returning gradually to full fitness after straining elbow ligaments lifting boxes of tiles at home in Ponte Vedra in August, Hend said a positive mindset and solid game plan served him well.

"I'm never surprised when I play good, I'm disappointed when I play bad," he said.

"Self-belief and confidence, that's all it is with a golfer.

"Most of us can hit it pretty much the same - good quality, good putters - but self-belief and confidence is where it all is.

"I was pretty much a hothead, but I've learned to control that and control my emotions on the course as well which leads obviously to more positive thoughts and good scores."

The 35 year old, whose best result at Huntingdale is a tie for seventh in 2001, described the greens as a pleasure to putt on and said his general game plan worked well.

Six birdies and just the one blemish, a bogey at the par four fourth, represented a satisfying day's work.

"My target was to be as aggressive as possible downwind, and then just try and make a par into the wind," Hend said.

"It was just aggressive then defensive, back and forward."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1FRASER, MarcusAUS18-12
T1PAMPLING, RodneyAUS18-12
3ALLENBY, RobertAUS18-9
T4CLARK, TimRSA18-8
T4NOREN, AlexanderSWE18-8
T4GREEN, NathanAUS18-8
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