Popovic Red-Hot in Australian PGA


Daniel Popovic fired an 8-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead after 18 holes of the Australian PGA Championship. The $1.3 million tournament, which was first played in 1905, began Thursday at Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

The 26-year-old carded three birdies on the front nine and six more on the back. His only dropped shot came on the par-5 15th. Popovic, who won the 2012 Australasian PGA qualifying school, leads fellow Aussie Scott Strange by two and China's Xin Jun Zhang, Singapore's Tze-huang Choo and Geoff Ogilvy by three.

Popovic has been on an emotional rollercoaster of late due to his father's recent cancer diagnosis.

"It is a slow-growing cancer but 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 knows there's a long way to go in the championship. "You can't be satisfied after round one," he said. "I'm going to try my best to finish off this tournament and if I'm feeling as good as I am right now over every shot, it's going to be hard hit a bad score . . . Dad's going to be very proud."

Defending champion Greg Chalmers shot an even-par 72, while 2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke carded a 2-under 70.

Greg Norman withdrew after playing the first two holes, both bogeys. The 57-year-old, who played and hosted last week's Franklin Templeton Shootout in Naples, Fla., pulled out due to a bout of food poisoning.

For complete scoring details, visit http://www.pga.org.au/scores.


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