Daniel Gale’s playing partners said it all as the Sydneysider strode with a smile towards the score return at Dubbo Golf Club after round one of the Western Open.
“He made every putt he looked at,” they chimed almost in chorus.
And when they added them up, Gale led the 36-hole event by two after a spectacular nine-under-par 63 that featured a five-under run in four holes mid-round.
“I missed a short par putt on the 16th, but I chipped in very unexpectedly (for birdie) on the 13th and pretty much boxed everything from the ninth through to the end,” Gale said.
The powerful 25-year-old, who spent much of his winter in Queensland to keep his hand in during the height of the pandemic near his home base at Castle Hill, was in the penultimate group last week at Murray Downs.
And he’ll be in the final group tomorrow alongside his good mate Charlie Dann and long-time friend Grace Kim, who was stellar in her Australian professional debut.
Kim and Dann each carded 65s based on strings of birdies and eagles.
The second last group tomorrow will feature Kade McBride (66) alongside Mitch Davis and Newcastle amateur Jye Pickin, who each notched fine 67s.
3.30pm: Dann the Man gets to eight
Charlie Dann is the man of the moment, moving to eight-under-par midway through his back nine during the opening round of the Western Open.
The Queenslander’s round has been a roller-coaster thus far: two eagles, six birdies, and a couple of bogeys in an entertaining day at the office.
Grace Kim is the other mover on course. Playing alongside Peter Lonard and the Murray Open Champion, Matt Millar, Kim has holed an eagle on the par-five 12th to vault to four under for the day and into a share of third place.
There’s an amateur fell creeping towards the top of the leaderboard, too, with Newcastle’s Jye Pickin and Forbes’ Stephen Betland both inside the top-10 at three under par.
1.00pm: Driven Davis Goes Deep
A ‘driven’ Mitch Davis has a one shot lead as the morning half of the draw complete their rounds here at The Western Open
Davis, who these days spends more time driving trucks delivering roof tiles with his father across Sydney than pounding balls on Cullen’s range at Little Bay, was faultless around the composite Dubbo layout.
In a round which included five birdies and not a single dropped shot. Davis was peerless, delivering a performance which bleed several years of grind on the local circuit.
The 31-year-old was particularly pleased with his effort post round, especially given the disruption his golfing career has faced during the pandemic.
“It felt pretty good. I didn’t really hit any bad shots, hit it solid all day, kept it in play and managed to hole a few putts, so it was pretty good.”
“It seemed quite dry. I didn’t get any mud balls, the course is mint, considering how much rain they’ve had.”
Covid has been a battle for Davis, and at the beginning of last year, he admits it forced a change in his perspective towards the game.
“When covid happened, I didn’t practice as much, I worked a bit more, I knuckled down a bit. I went to Q-school but didn’t get my card there.”
The last six or so month, however have been a turning point, and with time seemingly running out, Davis has found that little something to keep him pushing on.
“I’m 31 now, so something needs to click, but over the last six months or so I’ve been going pretty good.
“I’ve been working with Jeff Wagner on a few things, more mental really, and as they say, if you enjoy your golf you’ll play better golf.”
Queensland’s William Bruyeres, who played alongside Davis, and Kogarah’s Mitch Gannon share second place at four under, while Federal Golf Club trainee Aaron Maxwell is in outright fourth at minus three.
A group of five players sit at two under, including Charlie Dann and Josh Armstrong, who are grouped together. Grace Kim, playing in the group behind is also at two under early in her round.
Davis was a
10.20am: Harding, Gannon Hunting Birdies
Two men in one group have taken a liking to the Dubbo Golf Club composite course as the Western Open begins this morning.
Sydneysider Mitchell Gannon and his regional mate Jarrod Harding have rolled out to five under par through 13 holes in perfect scoring conditions, leading by one from William Bruyeres.
Peter Lonard joined Matt White on 1170 SEN this morning>>
Keeping the momentum for Federal Golf Club – the home of last week’s champ Matt Millar – trainee professional Aaron Maxwell is also prominent at three under.
The afternoon phase, containing all the marquee groups, is just under way with great scoring the order of the day.
7.00am: Play Underway At Dubbo
The Western Open is underway her at Dubbo Golf Club.
Early starters have been greeted with a tinge of grey in the sky, and a brisk cool morning with little breeze.
The Sun is doing it’s best to make an appearance and we should see patches of it throughout the morning. There is a chance of rain however, with the up to 6 mm predicted throughout the day.
There’ll be plenty of action from several players this morning with a bunch of up-and-coming amateurs ready to impress.
Muswellbrook’s Josh Fuller is one to watch. The 20-year-old made his NSW Open debut at Concord earlier this year, and is out to secure a second start in his State Championship.
Goulburn’s Dominic Falk will feel confident of a good showing this week. A late comer to the sport, Falk almost secured his spot at Concord in March at the NSW Country Championships held just down the road in Forbes earlier this month.
Others to watch include freshly minted Penrith golf club Champion, Josh Gadd, who after competing at Murray downs late last week, endured a nine-hour trek back to the foot of the mountain to claim bragging rights at his home track.
RECAP: MURRAY DOWNS
Maitland’s Hayden Gulliver is another who has tasted success in amateur regional qualifying, winning his way into the NSW Open at Thurgoona a couple of years ago.
The real action, however will begin when the afternoon play gets underway.
While most eyes will be on the star grouping of Murray Open winner Matt Millar, Peter Lonard and Grace Kim, several other groups are worth a look.
Tim Hart Nathan Barbieri and Jeffrey Pullen is one such group. Barbieri has been like a caged lion and roaring to get going for the Aussie summer of Golf, while Hart has already picked up a win on the pro am circuit this month.
Several other eye-catching groups are listed, including Justin Warren, Jordan Zunic and Daniel Gale, off the first at 11.40 am and Dimi Papadatos, Charlie Dann and Josh Armstrong at 11.10.
If you are in the area come on over and catch some of the spectacular action, or stay in touch with the latest updates and live scores at nswopen.com