Pampling leads in Las Vegas

Pampling leads in Las Vegas

Pampling leads in Las Vegas
Rod Pampling of Australia reacts after putting for birdie on the 11th hole during the first round of the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open in Las Vegas Thursday. — AFP

LAS VEGAS — Australian Rod Pampling fired a blistering 11-under par 60 to seize the US PGA Tour lead here Thursday, where two closing pars left him shy of a 59.

The 47-year-old veteran’s 12-foot birdie putt at 18 rolled left to deny him a spot in the exclusive club of golfers to shoot 59 in competition.

He had left a 21-footer at 17 just short.

Pampling, who had two eagles and seven birdies in his first 16 holes, wasn’t too disappointed.

He knew he was doing something special after he stuck his three-iron second shot at the par-five 16th within a foot for his second eagle of the day.

“When I hit it close on 16, that got my attention as to this is a really good round,” Pampling said.

His sparkling effort had him two strokes in front of John Huh and Brooks Koepka, who both shot 62 at TPC Summerlin.

Koepka had nine birdies without a bogey — including back-to-back birdies to close his round at the eighth and ninth.

“I obviously made a lot of putts today,” said Koepka, the US Ryder Cupper who won his first US PGA Tour title in Phoenix last year.”

Huh’s nine birdies included five in a row from the 13th-17th.

Billy Horschel was alone in fourth on 64 when play was halted by darkness with a handful of players still on the course. Australian Matt Jones and American Luke List were a stroke back on 65.

Willett grabs Turkey lead

Masters champion Danny Willett produced a roller-coaster round as George Coetzee made the most of his “lucky” opportunity to lead after day one of the $7 million Turkish Airlines Open Thursday.

The 30-year-old South African Coetzee recorded a blistering seven-under-par 64 for a one-stroke lead in superb scoring conditions in Belek on the Turkish coast, his lowest European Tour round since a 64 on the opening round of the 2014 Qatar Masters.

Coetzee, 160 in the world, was eight-under through 16 holes but he dropped a shot at the par-four 17th for his only blemish of the round.

The three-time European Tour winner initially had not qualified for the showpiece because he is ranked 85th on the Race to Dubai money list.

But he grabbed a spot following a number of high-profile withdrawals, including the Ryder Cup trio of Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy and Hazeltine winning hero Patrick Reed.

Willett arrived in Turkey lying second on the Race to Dubai and can regain the leading money list position by finishing fifth or higher in this week’s 78-player field.

If Coetzee were to win he would jump to 13th on the Race to Dubai.

Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen didn’t drop a shot in a round of 65 to be in second place.

Spain’s Jorge Campillo hit a hole-in-one at the 14th to share third with China’s Li Haotong, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria and Italy’s Matteo Manassero, two shots off the lead. — AFP