West Australian Michael Sim holds a two-shot lead heading into the final stages of the second round of the Golf Challenge NSW Open at Concord.
Sim, 36, is a three-time winner on the Nationwide Tour and widely regarded as one of Australia’s most talented players, has been flawless in his second round, posting six birdies through 15 holes to hold a slender lead over Picton’s Justin Warren (-10) as the cut line looms over the field.
- 1.30 pm: In Justin we trust as Warren sets the pace
- 11.40 am: Hungry Jack hits the lead
- 10.20 am: Queenslander Kennedy shows his class
- 7.30 am: Stunning start to Friday here at Concord
- Blake Braces for Defining Challenge
- Day one Recap
Straight out of the gate with three birdies in a row, Sim then birdied holes eight and nine to make the turn in 30, and then quickly added another at 13. He is currently sic-under for his round with just two holes to play.
The cut line is hovering at -2 as players finish up their second rounds.
1.30 pm: In Justin we trust as Warren sets the pace
It has been eight long years since Aron Price lifted the Kel Nagle Cup, the last time a New South Welshman won his home state’s major golf open.
That drought may break again this weekend with a swag of Sydneysiders all in contention midway through the second round of the Golf Challenge NSW Open at Concord.
Leading the charge is Picton’s Justin Warren, who, despite a surprise bogey on the par-five 17th, is the clubhouse leader as the afternoon rounds get underway.
Warren, 25, had nine birdies and two bogeys for a second round 64 to be one-shot ahead of fellow Sydneysider Nathan Barbieri.
In fact, Barbieri (-9), amateur Harrison Crowe (-8), Blake Windred (-7), and another amateur Harry Bolton (-7) all took advantage of the kind morning conditions to cement their spots for the weekend but also give rise to the chance of another Sydneysider finally taking home the coveted Cup.
Barbieri, the 23-year-old from Ryde, backed up his first-round 65 with a solid three-under 68 to be at -9 and very much a contender for final groupings tomorrow unless, of course, someone masters the afternoon conditions. Not bad for a young player in only his third month as a professional golfer.
“I was treating it like another day,” he said of his solid second round to back up his opening 65.
“There’s a lot of birdies out there and I tried not to get ahead of myself. I’m pretty shocked (by my score) and there’s still the afternoon rounds to come but it’s nice to be in a good position early.”
Asked how the course was holding up after armageddon-level rains during the week, Barbieri said: “I actually can’t give enough credit to the greens staff. It was unbelievable coming out here on Tuesday and seeing how wet it was, thinking we’d be playing preferred lies every day. But it’s slowly getting drier and full credit to them (ground staff) for the job they have done”.
The round of the morning belonged to Canberra’s Harry Bolton. He scorched around the par-70 layout in a seven-under masterclass that only had the one flaw – a lone bogey on the super-tough par-3 16.
Bolton, 24, said a recent alignment change and confident putting were behind his round.
“I’ve found something in my ball striking, through switching up my alignment a few weeks ago and it’s really helped my ball flight,” he said.
“I’ve been hitting it solidly off the tee which helps here, especially if you can keep it out of the trees. The greens are unbelievable and I hit a lot of good putts and most of them went in. That’s always nice.”
Bolton found himself in that rarified air of actually looking forward to putting.
“I dripped one in there on nine from 18 feet,” he said. “I didn’t hit the greatest approach, but I was telling my caddie that if I could just hit the greens that I’ve been putting well, so it was nice to get that. With the speed of the greens today, your lines and speed have to be bang on.
Further back is amateur Harrison Crowe who shot a five-under round to accompany his opening 68, and another who made some long putts on these tricky Concord greens to be in a great position for the weekend.
“I started off well, birdieing three of my first four,” said Crowe, a favourite son from St Michael’s Golf Club.
“Then I hit the brakes a bit, but when we turned to the back nine I holed two bombs in a row. A bogey (on the 3rd) and double-bogey (4th) weren’t great but then I backed it up with a couple of birdies and then I birdied the last. It was a bit up and down but still a great feeling.”
Other notable scores came from South Australian Jack Thompson, who followed up his opening 66 with a three-under round of 68 to be at -8.
11.40 am: Hungry Jack hits the lead
In just his third start as a professional young gun Jack Thompson finds himself amongst the leaders once again.
The South Australian Wizz kid, who opened the tournament with a five-under 66, has continued his excellent form with four under front nine ( 31) to be equal leader mid-way through the morning half of the draw here at Concord.
Thompson birdied the 1st, 5th, 8th and 9th to jump to nine-under alongside Kennedy, whois fresh from the WGC Workday Championship in Florida and a two-week quarantine. Kennedy birdied the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 9th to also shoot 31 on the front.
His approach on the 9th from the trees to two feet an indication of the form he is in despite not having swung a golf club for three weeks.
One shot back is Nathan Barbieri, and young gun St Michael’s GC amateur Harrison Crowe, who has had five birdies and no bogies on his card to be the leading amateur at eight-under. This could change, however, with Harry Bolton six-under for his round and six under for the tournament to be only three back.
10.20 am: Queenslander Kennedy shows his class
Queenslander Brad Kennedy is taking advantage of his years of experience and perfect conditions to be leading midway through the second round of the Golf Challenge NSW Open here at Concord Golf Club in Sydney.
Kennedy, 46, had four birdies on his outward nine to be at nine-under for the tournament and two shots ahead of Jack Thompson and Chris Wood, while overnight leader Blake Windred has dropped two shots to fall to -5 as players start the turn.
Whilst experience is everything in golf, it’s the amateurs also setting the challenge, with Harrison Crowe who followed up first-round 68 with a three-under front nine (starting from 10) to be at six-under for the tournament.
Fellow amateur Harry Bolton, playing with Windred, has the round of the morning in his hands so far, a five-under-par front nine (out in 30) to be at five-under for the tournament.
Speaking of veterans, Matthew Millar is also showing his experience with a three-under front nine (starting from 10) to be at four-under and within striking distance.
Stunning start to Friday here at Concord
Good morning golf-lovers and welcome to our coverage of Day Two of the Golf Challenge NSW Open live from Concord Golf Club in Sydney’s leafy inner west.
What a day it is shaping up to be, with light winds and glorious sunshine bathing the course and a very strong field jockeying for position to not only be here at the weekend but also lift the coveted Kel Nagle Cup on Sunday afternoon.
It’s a perfect day to walk the fairways if you would like to be here, and with day passes for adults starting at $20, and generous family passes for just $30. If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and watch the legends of Australian golf – names like Senior, Lonard, O’Malley – grab a ticket here and head on down.
All eyes will be on Novocastrian Blake Windred who is out early this morning and is leading the tournament after a stunning seven-under round yesterday.
Half a dozen players are one back at six-under and within striking distance.
Please join us throughout the day for updated coverage, real-time leaderboard, quirky stories, stunning photography, and video coverage of the NSW Open.