Some will say shooting nine-under social rounds with your mates isn’t great practice for professional events.
Alex Simpson would beg to differ.
The 37-year-old Sydneysider carded a fine seven-under-par 64 to lead the South Coast Open at Moruya today, cashing on in some great recent form.
He leads by one from Queenslander Peter Martin, who roared home to shoot a 65 by playing his final four holes – on the front nine – to reach six under.
Former PGA Tour winner Andre Stolz and European Tour player Deyen Lawson joined early leader Larry Austin at four under in a share of third, while James Grierson and Andrew Evans are the biggest names among a bunch at two under.
Simpson, the 2007 Australian Trainee Professional champion, was prominent at this month’s Queanbeyan Open, then maintained that touch with a couple of subsequent 63s in club competitions at The Ridge Golf Club in south-western Sydney.
“Yeah, I’ve been playing well, although I’m not sure that doing it with your mates is the ideal way of replicating tournament pressure,” Simpson said with a smile.
“But I feel like I’m hitting it pretty solidly at the moment and … you have to shoot those scores, no matter where you are, I suppose.”
Simpson rifled a 3-wood to 6m on the first hole today, then didn’t look back.
“It was nice to roll in an eagle to get it going and I just managed to keep it up,” he said.
“I left another eagle (attempt) short on the eighth which wasn’t great, but the rest was pretty reasonable.”
Simpson said he’d take an adaptive approach to tomorrow’s final round, but wouldn’t try to change too much about his game.
“Obviously the weather can play a big part in what you do, but I’m hitting it pretty well so probably won’t change too much.”
12.00pm: Happy As! Larry Leads Open By One
Queanbeyan-based professional Larry Austin is driving home to Bungendore one happy man this afternoon after carding a four-under-par 67 in the opening round of the South Coast Open.
The 44-year-old, who is more used to laying wall and floor tiles these days than grinding on tour, had a real day out, with four birdies and no bogey in his morning’s effort.
“I was a bit loose to start with, but I did get up-and-down at a couple of important times,” Austin said. “I did settle though, made a few good birdies and finished it with a couple of nice pars at the end.”
A great result after a heated mid-air conversation with his Titleist on approach and @diggerlawson goes -1 through 4 at #SouthCoastOpen at lush Moruya GC. Check @NSWOpen website to follow the scores. @GolfNSW pic.twitter.com/35FriXtmkr— Mark Hayes (@Hayesy24) January 30, 2022
Pleased with his morning’s work, Austin admitted he wasn’t planning on hanging around to work on his short game and was about to jump in the car and head back up the King’s Highway.
“It’s only about an hour and 45 home, “he grinned. “I like sleeping in my own bed; I never really liked the inside of motel rooms.”
“I’m happy with 67. I’ll duck home, play with the kids this afternoon and head back down tomorrow.”
Sydneysider Neven Basic, who played with Austin, and amateur Phoenix Campbell are a shot back of the leader after finishing at three under, while Alex Simpson, is the best of the afternoon half of the draw and also at minus three after four holes.