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Dodt leads with Scott lurking on Gold Coast

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Andrew Dodt hit a seven-under-par 65 to forge a two-shot lead before the opening round of the Australian PGA Championship was halted by Gold Coast lightning on Thursday after a late birdie blitz had propelled Adam Scott up the leaderboard.

Dodt, who has twice won similarly co-sanctioned European Tour events in the Asia-Pacific, tore up the Royal Pines course with eight birdies and a bogey to lead New Zealander Ryan Fox and American Julian Suri, who both carded 67s.

American Harold Varner III was also five-under through 14 holes when play was suspended.

World number seven Scott, who finished off his U.S. Masters-winning season by claiming the Australian PGA title at Royal Pines in 2013, made an excellent start when he nailed a 40-foot eagle putt at the par-five 12th, his third hole.

A bogey prior to the turn set him back, however, and he parred his way through the first six holes on the front nine before a string of birdies on his final three holes left him in a share of fifth after he signed for a 68.

"It didn't look pretty at the start but somehow I was two under after three and then hung in there and finished well," the 36-year-old local told reporters.

"Maybe that momentum off the last three holes is something to carry over for the rest of the week."

Britain's former world number five Ian Poulter, making his first appearance in a regular European Tour event for 10 months as he works his way back to fitness following foot surgery, was level par at the 16th when the weather closed in.

Former U.S. PGA Tour player Jarrod Lyle hit the first hole-in-one of the new European Tour season at the par-three fifth hole and was three-under at the 13th when play was halted.

The opening round will resume at 5:30 a.m. local time (1930 GMT) on Friday.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien)


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