Encouraging start by Woods; Daly quits

Twice major winner Daly blamed his abrupt departure on running out of balls after dumping six into a lake off the 11th tee but his excuse cut little ice with PGA Australia, who withdrew his invitation to the Australian PGA Championship.

Championship director Trevor Herden slammed Daly as "unprofessional" and said it was unlikely the 45-year-old American, who staged a similar walkout in Austria in September, would ever be invited back. "I'm extremely bitter and disappointed that he's treated this championship this way," said Herden.

Australian Lyle, who lost his card after a disappointing season on the US PGA tour, earlier prospered in the morning rain with a seven-under-par 65 to finish a shot ahead of American world number five Dustin Johnson and his compatriot Nick Watney. Watney was the only player to threaten the top of the leaderboard in difficult afternoon conditions when a changeable, gusty wind reduced players and caddies to throwing grass into the air at every tee.

Fred Couples, playing in Sydney alongside much of his team in preparation for next week's Presidents Cup, was in a group of four players sharing fourth with a 67.

The 52-year-old former US Masters champion, who will be non-playing captain for the United States at Royal Melbourne, was tied on five-under with locals Steven Jones, Greg Chalmers and James Nitties.

Woods was delighted with his four-birdie 68 (four-under) and gave him a first bogey-free round in nine months. "I hit it really good today," said the former world number one, who has slumped to 58th in the world after two years of personal turmoil and injury.  "That was exactly how I've been hitting them at home and that's good, I was able to take it to the golf course today and I was able to hit all the shots in these conditions."

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