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Kuchar Starts Pro Career With 69

November 23, 2000

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Matt Kuchar birdied the first hole of his pro career Thursday in a round of 3-under-par 69 that left him a stroke back in the Australian Open.

``It’s definitely in my mind to win here,″ said Kuchar, the 1997 U.S. Amateur champion who recently graduated from Georgia Tech.

Australians Peter O’Malley and Paul Gow and New Zealand’s Greg Turner opened with 68s, and Australia’s Aaron Baddeley _ the winner last year as an amateur, was a stroke back along with Kuchar, Australia’s Robert Allenby and Sweden’s Pierre Fulke.

``I was looking forward to getting out there,″ said Baddeley, playing his first pro tournament in his home country. ``I was a bit nervous, but I got a good drive away at the first and everything was pretty good after that.″

Kuchar, the low amateur in the 1998 Masters and U.S. Open, said he modeled his game after Australian Greg Norman’s.

``Greg has been great to me,″ Kuchar said. ``He has always been a role model of mine. I have emulated his swing and I have tried to conduct myself in the same way he does.″

Norman, who won the Australian Open in 1995, when it was last played at Kingston Heath, shot a 72. England’s Nick Faldo opened with a 71, and American Mark O’Meara had a 76.

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