Five-Way Log Jam At The Top at #AusAm

Five golfers share the lead in the Men’s division of the Australian Amateur Championship after the dust settled at New South Wales and St Michael’s Golf Clubs this afternoon.

Local Hope Harrison Crowe, Freshly minted Australian Master of the Amateurs Champion John Gough, and Young gun Kai Komulainen joined the morning leaders, Connor McDade and Singapore’s Ryan Ang after matching the morning pairs five under par effort.

One shot back in sixth is The Australian Golf Club’s Jeffrey Guan at four under with Ireland’s Robert Moran and New Zealand’s Sam Jones.

New Zealand’s Kazumi Kobori, Royal Queensland’s Lincoln Morgan (younger brother of 2020 Australian Amateur Champion Jed), Connor Whitelock of Byron Bay, and Japan’s Taishi Motor in a tie for 9th.

Nine golfers, including Jye Halls (NSW GC), Thomas Heaton (The Australian), Bart Carroll( Bonnie Down/ Wagga), Jye Pickin ( Avondale) are in 13th place at two under par.

Connor McDade
Connor McDade shot five under in morning play of the opening round of the Australian Amateur

Earlier, a driver – eight iron, then ‘the best thirty-footer I hit all day,‘ gave Victorian McDade first bite of the lead alongside Singapore’s Ryan Ang during on the opening morning.

Playing downwind, McDade said it was always in his mind to take advantage on the reachable par-five last on the challenging New South Wales layout.

“I had birdie in mind all day down 18, but hit it onto that back shelf, then hit a nice putt and it fell into the hole,” he grinned.

McDade didn’t get his round off to the best of starts, but as the wind picked up, he found his range and was happy to see a few putts begin to drop. 

“It was a battle for sure. We all started slow. (I was) one over through two, I made some big up-and-downs on the front nine to turn square, which, to be honest, I was happy with; a lot of those greens on the front are tough.”

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Making his move on the back nine, Mc Dade slotted birdies on the 11th, 14th, and 15th before his grandstand finish on the last. 

“I didn’t really know I was making so many birdies until I finished to be honest; Pretty happy with five under in the end.”

“The putter behaved itself today, and I hope that remains the case for the rest of the week.”

Young Gun Kai Koumulainen was the standout in the 320 person field on a breezy afternoon.

Despite a bogey on his very first hole, the 17-year-old was almost faultless for the remainder of his round.

“I carelessly rolled the birdie putt past about eight feet and didn’t make the one coming back. But after that it was good.

“I thought there might have been a bit more wind out there in the afternoon, at least that was forecast, but I think St Michael’s is a little bit more protected than New South Wales.” Koumulainen said.

Heaton Thomas 1920 20230110 Aus Am Rd One 0021 copy
Thomas Heaton was on fire early, but two dropped shots in his second nine holes proved costly.

Guan, the best-placed New South Welshman after the morning half of the draw had completed their rounds, was content with his four-under-par effort.

“It’s a good first round to start with,” Guan said.

“I felt like I played solid off the tee, just one or two drives, like the 17th in the bush where we found the original after a bit of chaos, but I still feel I hit the ball quite well. If I could have made a couple more putts, I would definitely be happier.

Despite being in the mix, Guan tempered his response to a question of victory this week, preferring to reflect on the views both courses afforded the players.

“I wouldn’t say there’s an expectation to play well; just play to the best of my ability and see how I go from there. 

“I really like these courses; I played New South Wales yesterday, and it’s got one of the best views you can get.”

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