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Storm helps Dodt to keep Aust PGA leader

NZN 2 days ago Scott Bailey

Queenslander Andrew Dodt took the honours on Thursday's opening day of the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines, but his two-shot lead could be shortlived.

Only an afternoon storm stopped American Harold Varner III's assault on the leaderboard, the 26-year-old set to resume at five under on the 15th hole at 5.30am (AEST) on Friday after the dangerous weather ended play prematurely.

The world No.191 birdied four consecutive holes midway through his round, and then another on the 13th to leave him equal with countryman Julian Suri and New Zealander Ryan Fox - who each carded five-under-par par 67s in the morning.

Australian Adam Scott is one shot behind the trio, buoyed after birdies on his final three holes to sit in a six-way tie for fifth at four under.

But it was Dodt who made the best of the friendly early morning conditions with a seven-under 65.

After bogeying early, the world No.522 recovered to birdie five of his final nine holes on greens softened by Wednesday's rain.

"My caddie and I said maybe 10 under (would win it) at the start of the week," he said.

"So it's nice to be seven after round one.

"I drove it well, wedged it well and putted well - it was just solid."

Along with Varner's charge, the 30-year-old is likely to feel the pressure of Scott breathing down his neck following the 2013 champion's hot finish to the round.

Scott eagled the par-5 12th after starting the day on the back nine, but then fell down the leaderboard when he missed a par putt to bogey the 18th on the turn.

"I was just treading water for a while," Scott said.

"Cautious of going over the green, in between clubs, and you just have to be patient and it paid off because I birdied the last three."

Early leader Greg Chalmers is five shots off the lead after an inconsistent day to be tied for 21st.

He birdied four of his first seven holes after starting on the back nine, but finished the day at two under after three bogeys and just one more birdie.

His morning, however, was better than playing partner Curtis Luck.

The up-and-coming amateur hit four bogeys on the front nine to be nine shots off the pace.

He wasn't the only casualty of the first day.

Last year's winner Nathan Holman also found trouble to be three-over-par after his first 11 holes, while Australian Olympian Scott Hend found water on the 12th to double bogey and be two over after the 14th hole.

Hend's Olympic partner Marcus Fraser was three over after 12 holes when the storm stopped play.

Victorian Jarrod Lyle pulled off the shot of the day with a hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth, to be tied 11th at three under after 13 holes.

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