Appleby leads, wind suspends play in Sydney

Stuart Appleby shot a second consecutive 6-under-par 66 to take a six-stroke lead at the wind-suspended Australian Open on Friday.

Appleby had played just two holes before a near six-hour suspension due to gusting winds on the oceanside links-style New South Wales Golf Course.

When darkness stopped play, Adam Scott was in second place on six-under, having picked up two shots after six holes.

Scott Hend, who shared the lead with Appleby after the first round, had dropped a shot to be 5-under after eight holes, level with Peter Wilson, who was among those who still hadn’t started their second rounds when play was stopped.

John Daly was even through six holes after an opening 72. The second round was expected to be completed Saturday morning.

Appleby, who had a two-round total of 12-under 132, had five birdies, a bogey and an eagle on the par-5 18th, which was his ninth hole Friday.

Play was stopped Friday morning after balls were blown off greens by the wind, before most groups had teed off.

“It’s nothing to do with the golf course,” tournament director Trevor Herden said. “No matter where you were today you wouldn’t be able to play with those wind gusts.”

It was the third time in eight years that the country’s most prestigious tournament had been interrupted because putting became impossible.

“The powers that be didn’t get it right,” Appleby said. “It unfortunately seems to be an Australian Open tradition.”

Australian Brett Rumford made a quintuple-bogey eight at the par-3 second after his tee shot settled near the flag.

As Rumford prepared to putt, a gust of wind blew his ball off the green. After consulting two rules officials Rumford decided to chip it back on, from where he three-putted. He was subsequently penalized one shot for addressing a moving ball and two more for not replacing it, and shot 78.

Tour veteran Peter O’Malley, in contention after an opening round of 69, watched while his ball roll from tap-in range to 10 feet away on the 13th immediately before play was suspended.

“As far as putting goes it was a lottery,” said O’Malley. “You can’t really stand up on the greens and putt. You don’t know if you can ground the putter … because you don’t know whether it’s going to roll again.”

Greg Chalmers, runner-up to Tiger Woods at the Australian Masters in Melbourne last month, agreed.

“When you’ve got balls moving on greens … that’s hard to take when it costs you money,” said Chalmers, who shot 72 Friday and is 10 strokes behind Appleby. “There are a lot of guys whose tournament has been kicked out the door.”