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Popovic doing it for dad at Australian PGA
By Wayne Heming
20:13 AEST Thu Dec 13 2012

Daniel Popovic could be a hard man to beat in the Australian PGA Championship as he chases a major victory for his father who has incurable cancer.

The 26-year-old from Lower Templestowe in Victoria produced the round of his life - an eight-under 64 - before revealing his father, Radi, was dying from multiple myeloma.

"My father found out earlier on in the year he has cancer," said Popovic.

"It really shook me around a lot. It still sort of does when I think about it.

"But I find a lot of strength in him; how he's fighting that and how he really wants me to push forward with my golf and find happiness through him.

"It's not exactly like (golfer) Jarrod Lyle's one. It's called multiple myeloma. It's leukaemia in his bones. It's one that is unable to be cured.

"It is a slow growing cancer but 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's score was two shots off the Coolum course record and gave him a two-shot cushion over West Australian Scott Strange, the clubhouse leader for much of the day after opening with a flawless 66.

A shot further back on 67 were China's Xin Jun Zhang, who didn't pick up a golf club until he was 17, Singapore's Tze-huang Choo, and Geoff Ogilvy who had two eagles in his round - the same score he opened with when he won in 2008.

The day had started dramatically when drawcard Greg Norman struggled through his first two holes and then withdrew with food poisoning.

Norman was treated by a local doctor from the Coolum medical centre and given medication to help control his symptoms.

But there were no such dramas for Popovic, who also credited a Tuesday practice round with Ogilvy in helping him achieve his first round score.

"That was some of the best golf that I've played in my life," he said.

"There were times there where I even surprised myself how confident I was with the way that I was hitting it.

He couldn't wait to jump on the mobile to talk to his dad and mother, Mila.

"My mum and dad will be over the moon," he said.

"They will be in tears. They're very sensitive people. My mum would have been bawling her eyes out all day."

Popovic's father, who dislikes flying, made it to The Lakes in Sydney last week to see him hit off and play the ninth hole of the Australian Open.

He wasn't sure if he would make the trip up to the Sunshine Coast if he was in a winning position on Sunday.

"I'd love nothing more than my dad to see me here with an opportunity to win," he said.

"Whether that can happen or not, I'm not really sure and he's also terrified of flying."

Prior to his stunning round, Popovic had been 38 over par for his 12 professional tournaments finishing under par in only three of them.

"I'm going to try my best to finish off this tournament," he said when asked if he'd be satisfied with his career-best round.

"I've put myself in a fantastic position to go out there and give it a fair crack."


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