Dubbo’s Lachie Jones and Toukley’s Beau Willet hold a one-shot lead in the NSW Country Championships after the opening round at Shoalhaven Heads Golf Club.
On an afternoon perfect for golf, Jones, a former NSW Junior representative, and Willett carded matching six-under-par rounds around the testing Shoalhaven layout.
One shot behind in a tie for third are NSW Junior Representative Jye Halls, Kiama’s Ethan Harvey and The Vintage’s Josh Fuller at five under par.
Defending Champion Harry Bolton sits at four under alongside Wollongong’s Thomas Heaton and the Links Shell Cove’s Nathan Whiteman.
Seventeen players are shot better than par, with another six at even.
All the talk in the clubhouse, post-round, was about the scores of Jones and Willett.
The usually reserved Jones was a young man making plenty of noise today. After starting on the first, the 20-year-old rolled in birdies on the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 9th to turn for home four under par.
Jones got to six under with two more birdies on the 12 and 13th, but a pair of bogeys on 14 and 15 looked like derailing his charge. However, the man-bun-wearing gun finished in style, with birdies on 17 and 18 for a grandstand finish.
“I got off to a hot start, I was holing every putt I looked at, really, and when I missed the green, I made a few easy up-and-downs.”
Joens said the round wasn’t entirely unexpected, saying his recent form had been good, and he had done plenty of work under his new coach, Grant Field, LIV star Cameron Smith’s mentor.
I’ve been staying in Queensland at mum and dad’s holiday apartment, working with Grant Field.
“I’ve been playing well, striking the ball well and working on my short game a lot.”
Jones said he was quietly confident of his chances entering tomorrow’s final round, adding that there was still room for improvement.
“I’ll go out with the same mindset, but still beed to hit the ball a bit better and hole a few more putts.”
Plenty of highlights came out of the day, with several firsts for a couple of players, including Josh Fuller, who binned a pair of eagles during his back nine. None was more impressive, however than the hole-in-one scored by Wollongong 17-year-old Axel Thomsen.
“Dad told me told change clubs, so I hit a 3/4 nine iron.
“It was all over the pin, all the way. Two bounces on the green, and it went in.
“It was pretty cool. I couldn’t believe it had happened.
“I needed it!” Thomsen grinned.