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Clarke is off to good start in Oz

DARREN CLARKE lies three shots off the lead after the first round of the Australian PGA after shooting a 69.

Australia's Steven Bowditch and Choi Joon-woo of South Korea shot rounds of 6-under-par 66 and hold a one shot lead at Coolum.

Americans Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler and British Open Champion Clarke are the leading international players taking part in the event.

Watson and Australians Andre Stolz, Aaron Townsend and Aaron Baddeley shared third place with 67s, while Wu Kangchun of China was in a large group with 68s. Clarke and Fowler were three behind after 69s.

Clarke was in the same group as Adam Scott (70) and Greg Norman (72).

Scott made a huge recovery from his opening 40 -- including a triple-bogey six on the par-3 11th -- to shoot a six-under 30 coming home. Despite hitting nine birdies, Scott has unfortunately carried on with his inconsistent Presidents Cup form.

The 43 year old Northern Irishman is playing at Coolum for the first time.

"I made a couple of silly plays because I don't know the course and that is where it cost me," said Clarke, who arrived on Monday from Northern Ireland. "It is a long way from home and I'm a little bit tired, the jetlag got me, but I'll have a good rest and get ready for tomorrow."

Choi took a surprise lead a with a brilliant round of 66. His fortunes could have been greater had he not bogeyed the eighth and 13th holes.

Choi, though, claimed a share of the lead with an eagle on the par-four 16th before his sixth birdie of the day at the 18th saw him move clear of the field, until Bowditch claimed a share of the lead late on.

Watson sits one shot back courtesy of a near-flawless round of 67.


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