McIlroy shines in Australian Open
Moonah Links

Moonah Links

Teen sensation Rory McIlroy outshone defending champion Peter Lonard in the first round of the Australian Open near Melbourne.

The Holywood talent, 16, opened with a one over par 73 at Moonah Links - one stroke better than the likes of Lonard and PGA Tour star Craig Parry.

McIlroy fired two birdies and three bogeys at the Peter Thomson-designed par 72 to share 50th place and boost his chances of making the cut.

But he finished a long way behind leader Robert Allenby, who fired a course record nine under par 63 for a one stroke lead over America’s Spencer Levin.

Allenby has suffered from inflammation of the right hand several times this year and could not even hold a golf club four days ago.
But he still chalked up his tenth birdie of the day at the 18th to break the course record set just hours earlier by rookie Levin.

Scott Laycock was alone in third on seven under while world number eight Adam Scott was tied for fourth with Geoff Ogilvy on six under par.

Allenby said: “I was happy to get out there. I got off the plane on Monday and thought I was not playing. I could not even hold a golf club in my right hand.

"I thought I would test it in the pro-am and see how it goes. I played all right and shot a few under.

"I am a bit tentative with a short iron in my hand, purely for the fact that I take a fairly large divot when I hit a short iron. I am a little scared sometimes when I have a sand iron or a pitching wedge.

"So far, so good. I'll keep testing it out there. The tendon is really tight and I've got to keep stretching it.

"I could do just one thing wrong and I would be out, walking back to the clubhouse."

McIlroy was one under par after a birdie at the 378 yard third but bogeyed the par three fifth and par four ninth to turn in one over.

Another bogey at the 14th left him two over but like Allenby, he birdied the 582 yard 18th for a level par back nine and his 73.

Australia based Eddie Barr led the Irish challenge on one under par 71 after a round that contained four birdies and just three bogeys.

Mark Hensby, who caused a stir earlier in the week by accusing Greg Norman of not having done enough for Australian golf , was tied with seven others in 29th place on one under.