COOLUM, Australia -- Daniel Popovic shot an 8-under 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, in his first year on the PGA Tour of AustralAsia, birdied his first four holes at the Palmer Coolum Resort, and later had a string of five straight 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 of China and Singapore's Choo Tze-huang, who carded 67s.
Ogilvy, who won the 2006 U.S. Open, carded two eagles, at the par-5 fifth and par-5 12th.
"I felt like I got away with it a bit," said Ogilvy. "I mean, the two eagles I had were a really long putt from off the green and a chip in."
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.
''Last week he came up to Sydney, but he just sort of saw my first tee shot and when I came through nine and that was it. But he will be in tears today.''
Popovic, who won the 2012 AustralAsian PGA Q-School, scorched the Palmer Coolum Resort layout in sunny but windy afternoon conditions. The 26-year-old birdied his first four holes and bounced back from his only bogey of the day at the par-5 15th with five straight birdies from the 17th hole.
Korean Han Min-kyu's course record of 62 looked under real threat, but Popovic parred his remaining six holes to finish at minus-8.
"That was some of the best golf that I've played in my life," Popovic said. "There were times there where I even surprised myself of how confident I was with the way that I was hitting it."
Veteran Peter Senior, who won last week's Australian Open, was in a group tied for sixth after a 68. Darren Clarke, the 2011 British Open champion, shot 70, including a 10-footer for par on 18.
Source from: pga.com