Four shots back in the men’s, eight in the women. There was no moving day joy at this year’s Australian Open Golf Championship for anyone wearing blue.
Hopes of a hometown victory from a NSW player look shaky after the dust settled on a moving day at the Australian Golf Club.
In the Women’s Championship, Stephy Kyriacou is the best placed, a distant eight shots back of the defending champ, Ashleigh Buhai.
Kyriacou’s thee under 69 contained four birdies and a solitary bogey to share fourth place, but like most of the field, she was no match for the defending champ after she carded a sizzling five under par 67.
Grace Kim looked set to join her good friend Kyriacou at minus four except for a disastrous triple bogey on the last to drop back to one under and a tie for 9th.
Claire Shin carded a one-under-par 71 to improve her lot by five spots, while Newcastle Amateur Ella Scaysbrook kept her nerves in check to post a promising even par 72.
Of the others, Kelsey Bennett carded an even-par 72, Sarah Kemp a 74, and Sarah Oh a 74.
Rachel Lee, whose week started so promisingly, carded a five over 77, while Amy Chu improved to 35th after a one over 73.
Amelia Mehmet Grohn, Soo Jin Lee and Chizuru Ueda had days they will probably quickly put behind themselves, carding 80, 79 and 86 respectively.
The highlight of the day, however, belonged to Ann Jang, who recorded the rarest of birds, an albatross. The 16-year-old holed her three-wood second shot on the 446 metres par-four first, her opening hole of the day. Her one over-par round of 73 sees her sitting in a tie for 22nd.
It’s a two-way tie at the top in the men’s, with overnight leader Min Woo Lee joined by Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino. Lee will be attempting to be the first player since Greg Chalmers in 2011 to win the Australian Open and PGA Championship in the same year.
Best of the NSW crew is LIV Golf’s Matt Jones and Lismore’s former European Tour winner, Sam Brazel, in a share of 6th place at nine under par.
Jones carded a handy three under 68, while Brazel’s round could have been much better except for a brace of missed putts from very gettable distances.
A two-time Aussie Open Champ, Jones claimed victory in 2015 and again in 2019. Weather notwithstanding, the Ripper GC representative’s winning score of 15-under in 2019 looks certain to be bettered this year.
Brazel, meanwhile, looked the man most likely to lead a charge, getting to two under through six holes and within a sniff of the lead. Sadly, he failed to convert a brace of chances on his homeward nine, finishing with a one-under 70.
Jeffrey Guan should have taken advantage of his home course knowledge, but swapping birdies with bogeys twice on his card didn’t help his cause. A consolation birdie on the last was his only bright spot of the day in an otherwise dour effort, finishing at one under par for the day.
Cameron Davis took advantage of the relative anonymity of the other side of the draw and, at one stage found himself two from the lead. Sadly, bogeys on the 7th and 8th (his 16 & 17 holes for the day) meant he too had to be content with a one under 70.
Travis Smyth had a pleasant morning, carding a four-under 67 to jump 26 places and into 27th. Jetting off to the LIV qualifying tournament tomorrow night, Smyth will be happy to put another good round on the table to polish off his preparation for the biggest week of his professional career.
The remaining two NSW-based players in the men’s championship, Andrew Dodt and Rhein Gibson, could only manage a 73 and 77, respectively, and sit well out of contention.