Fresh from his maiden Australasian PGA tour win in the Moonah Links PGA Classic a month ago, Victorian Bryden Macpherson is poised for his second win in as many months with the clubhouse lead at Concord after the third round of the Golf Challenge NSW Open.
Should he lift the Kel Nagle Cup tomorrow here, Macpherson will have his fifth professional win, although a swag of quality players are within reach and keen to ruin the party.
The 30-year-old former winner of the British Amateur (2011) started his third round four adrift of overnight leader Michael Sim, but eight birdies and two bogeys for a six-under 66 left him at -15, a shot clear of freshly-minted professional South Australian Jack Thompson who matched his bogey-free six-under round playing in just his third professional event.
“I think the course is getting better,” Macpherson said, referring to the biblical rains Sydney endured earlier in the week.
“We are starting to get the hang of the course, and the guys that are playing well are finding their way around it a little easier.”
Joining Thompson at -14 is Ryde’s Nathan Barbieri, who disrupted an otherwise perfect round with a late bogey on 16 to go with six birdies in his third round 66.
“I did all the right things and shot a really good score,” the 24-year-old said.
“I started how I wanted to knowing I’m a few shots behind, with three birdies through the first six. I made a couple of really good par saves to keep the momentum going (which) was a massive key for this round.”
Asked what the “secret sauce” might be for tomorrow’s round, Barbieri said it would be more of the same. “Just putting the ball in the right spots, giving myself lots of wedges and going at pins when they are accessible.”
At -13 is Gold Coast’s Dylan Perry, runner-up in the 2018 British Amateur Championship, who shot a flawless six-under 65 to be in sole possession of 4th.
Another shot back is the second round leader Michael Sim, who rattled off 11 pars before a rollercoaster finish left him one-over for his round and in a share of 5th.
Although the leaderboard here at Concord reflects age and experience, the spectre of Elvis Smylie looms quietly in the background.
The 18-year-old provided the day’s highlights with only the ninth albatross in Australian PGA history – a perfectly struck five-iron from 208m on the par-five eighth – followed by an eagle on 11, four birdies, and four three-putts for the day’s lowest round (-7) to be at -12.
“It was a rollercoaster,” said the 18-year-old of his 64.
“Four three-putts is never great, but the greens were tricky and very fast and I got on the wrong side of pins a couple of times.”
“I can go into the final round now ready for the challenge.”
It was the second albatross of Smylie’s young career, his first came at ninth at Royal Perth Golf Club.
“I just hit an absolute cracking five-iron with a little draw and it was tracking all the way. One of my playing partners said it tracked like a putt. It was kinda cool, my first in a tournament. What a time to do it.”