COOLUM, Australia — Daniel Popovic shot 8-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Australian PGA Championship on Thursday, revealing afterward that his father is battling incurable cancer.
Popovic, on his first year on the Australasian PGA Tour, birdied his first four holes at the Palmer Coolum Resort, and later had a string of five consecutive birdies.
Fellow Australian Scott Strange shot 66 and was alone in second, followed by 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and OneAsia Tour regulars Zhang Xinjun and Choo Tze-huang, who carded 67s.
Popovic said his father, Radi, who gave him his start in the game, is battling a form of bone cancer.
“You are unsure of when the actual day will come, but he is a strong man and a very stubborn man and I think he’ll be here for a little while longer,” Popovic said. “He doesn’t have too much energy.
Veteran Peter Senior, who won last week’s Australian Open, was in a group tied for sixth after 68. Darren Clarke, the 2011 British Open champion, shot 70.
Greg Norman pulled out after two holes – both bogeys – because of food poisoning.
ALFRED DUNHILL CHAMPIONSHIP: In Malelane, South Africa, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy has a one-shot lead after the opening round.
Bourdy shot 6-under-par 66, finishing with six birdies at Leopard Creek Country Club.
Bourdy is one ahead of 2011 Masters Tournament champion Charl Schwartzel, who is part of a six-way tie for second at the second event on the European Tour schedule in the Race to Dubai.
A revived Schwartzel, who won in Thailand last weekend for his first title since the Masters, had five birdies in his 67.