Daniel Popovic plays a shot during round one of the Australian PGA.

Daniel Popovic plays a shot during round one of the Australian PGA. Photo: Getty Images

Victorian Daniel Popovic upstaged the big names to shoot an opening round 64 to lead the Australian PGA Championship at the Palmer Coolum resort on Thursday.

The 26-year-old set the course alight with nine birdies and at one stage looked a chance of shooting the magical 59 when he was eight under through 11 holes.

His eight under, two shots off the Coolum course record, gave him a two-shot lead over West Australian Scott Strange who was the clubhouse leader after opening with a flawless 66.

One shot further back was China’s Xin Jun Zhang, who didn’t pick up a golf club until he was 17, and carded six birdies and one bogey in his 67, the same score as Singapore’s Tze-huang Choo, and Geoff Ogilvy who had two eagles in his round.

Popovic, who topped the qualifying school early this year, revealed his father Radi, who was battling incurable bone cancer, had been an inspiration to him.

‘‘Dad introduced me to golf,’’ he said. ‘‘It [cancer] is not exactly like 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’s 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 played a practice round with Ogilvy on Tuesday and said the advice he got from the 2006 US Open winner and his caddie proved invaluable for his opening round.

AAP