Argentine leads Nationwide Tour opener

PANAMA CITY, Panama --- Argentina's Rafael Gomez overcame a triple bogey on the 11th hole to shoot 2-under-par 70 and take the lead in the Panama Digicel Championship on Friday.


Gomez, who opened with 67, is at 5-under-par 135 in the season-opening Nationwide Tour event.

Former PGA Tour player Skip Kendall is one shot off the lead after rounds of 67-69--136.

Ex-Augusta State golfer Richard Johnson is six back after rounds of 73-68--141.

Major Manning, another former Augusta State golfer who was making his Nationwide Tour debut, had 73-74--147 and missed the cut by four shots.

Augusta's Scott Parel also missed the cut after rounds of 75-74--149.

LADIES EUROPEAN TOUR: In Gold Coast, Australia, Nikki Campbell shot 7-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the ANZ Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines.

Campbell had a 10-under total of 134, putting her a shot ahead of fellow Australian Kristie Smith, who had seven consecutive birdies to start her round and finished with 62.

"I hit a few bad shots but made a few good recoveries, including chipping in on the 12th," said Campbell. "Putting is the key to playing this course well."

Another Australian, LPGA Tour regular Katherine Hull, was in third place after 67.

Smith, the 20-year-old daughter of former Australian touring pro Wayne Smith, one-putted her first seven greens to go 7-under after seven holes. Her 62 improved on her previous best career round of 66 -- also at the Royal Pines resort course -- in 2005.

"After the sixth one my caddie (Darren Weatherall) and I just looked at each other and laughed," Smith said. "After the seventh one fell, it was like yeah ... a little bit of an out-of-body experience."

Using a new cross-handed putting grip, she equaled the European Ladies Tour's record of seven successive birdies, two short of American Beth Daniel's LPGA Tour record of nine set in Texas in 1999.

She also equaled the course record set by Karrie Webb in 2007. Webb shot 73 Friday and was nine strokes back.

Smith had 12 birdies and two bogeys and took just 22 putts for the round.

"The putts just kept rolling in from the first hole," said Smith.

Smith's father, who shot 10-under twice during his professional career, had been her caddie until they recently agreed it was time for her to hire someone else.



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