by Olivia McMillan, PGA
Queenslander Jake McLeod was a man on fire at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club setting a new course record to hold a convincing lead at the AVJennings NSW Open.
Starting the day tied 5th, McLeod stepped onto the first tee unusually calm and proceeded to reel off six birdies in seven holes.
“I was actually really calm today, usually I get very nervous on the first tee no matter what tournament it is or where I’m sitting. But I was really calm and I think that birdie on the first really got me going,” said McLeod.
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“I was 6-under through seven so I knew I was going pretty low.”
On the back-9 he continued on with his birdie frenzy adding a further four consecutively to his scorecard from the 12th to 15th holes.
McLeod watched an 11th birdie putt disappear into the hole on 17, before tensing up on the 18th and finishing with a three-putt bogey to finish the day on 10-under 62, beating the previous record by a stroke.
“The first eight holes were pretty calm, but once we got to the turn it really started blowing. I thought if I could hang on to what I was I would be pretty happy, but I think I had four in a row through the middle part of the back-9 there,” added McLeod, who is now 19-under the card.
“It was pretty surreal. I think I just holed everything, I don’t know how it happened. Everything just seemed to want to go in.
While the media called for ‘59 watch’ at the 15th hole, it was the furthest thing from the 24-year-old’s mind who is trying to secure his first victory on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
“I never thought I would have 59,” added McLeod with his signature cheeky grin.
“I wanted to have 12 (under), which is why I rammed it up the last there. It’s pretty easy to forget about [that last hole] when you’ve made so many birdies out there.”
The nerves will be back for the final round, despite McLeod holding a four shot advantage overnight.
“I think I’m due, past due,” added McLeod who has recorded three top-10 finishes on Tour this season.
“Each tournament I seem to get a little bit better and better. And I’ve put myself in this situation a couple of times now, hopefully I can get it done and it will be a good learning curve.
“I’ll be pretty nervous out there, but I’m just going to stick to the same game plan that has been working all week. I’m just trying to get it in play really. If I rolled it like I did today I think there’s another low one out there.”
McLeod’s third round playing partner and fellow Queenslander Blake Proverbs also moved his way up the leaderboard today.
He fired 5-under 67 to be outright second and trailing McLeod by four shots. Proverbs entered the AVJennings NSW Open after recording a top-10 result at last week’s Isuzu Queensland Open and needs the same result to qualify for next week’s Emirates Australian Open.
Overnight leader Harrison Endycott had an adventurous day on course, making an eagle, five birdies, a bogey and two double bogeys to end the third round on 2-under 70, outright third on the leaderboard and five shots off the lead.
At 13-under the card after 54 holes is Cameron John while rounding out the top-5 on a shot further back is Jordan Mullaney and Blake Collyer who holds leading amateur honours.
The final round of the AVJennings NSW Open tees off at 6.45am with the final group of McLeod, Proverbs and Endycott on course at 11am.