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Cullen Sets Pace in Australian Masters


Nick Cullen got off to a rousing start in the Australian Masters. The 29-year-old carded a 6-under 65 at Royal Melbourne to take a two-stroke lead over fellow Aussie Adam Scott and Germany's Max Kieffer.

"Any time you shoot 6-under around a course like this you have to be happy," said Cullen, who carded six birdies, an eagle on the par-4 11th hole and two bogeys Thursday. His eagle came when he holed out his approach from 65 yards.

Scott, the No. 2-ranked player in the world who's coming off a victory in last week's Australian PGA, began the first round resoundingly, with four straight birdies but only carded one more birdie - and a bogey - the rest of the way.

"A 67 around here is a good score," the 2013 (American) Masters champion said. "It was a bit of a slow finish but it was a good way to open up. I felt like I left a couple out there, but my game was in pretty good shape other than that and four rounds like that might go a long way this week."

Eight players posted 68s at the historic course, while another 11 had 69s. The only two Americans in the field - Matt Kuchar and Casey Wittenberg - carded 71 and 75, respectively.

Australia's Jarrod Lyle returned to competition following a second bout with leukemia. The 32-year-old carded a respectable 1-over 72. The start of his round was very emotional as Lyle wept when introduced as he prepared for his opening tee shot. The tears continued to flow as he then walked to the ropes to hug his wife Briony and greet their young daughter Luci.

"It was a feeling I thought I would never experience again," Lyle said of coming back to tournament golf.

"The emotions overtook me on the first tee. It's something I always dreamed of, having my daughter at a tournament. It was great she got to see what I do. My dream is to come here and make the cut. After 12 holes things were looking grim but I fought like crazy," he said of his three-birdie, four-bogey day.

For all the scores, visit http://www.pga.org.au/scores/99739.