It started with one from the first group of the day when reigning NSW Amateur champion Harrison Crowe signed for a seven-under-par 64 to lead the Golf Challenge NSW Open at Concord.
Then a cavalcade of players followed his lead to draw level throughout the day, with Queenslander Charlie Dann looking the most likely to break the deadlock and take solo possession late in the day.
A bogey at the 18th dragging him back from eight-under into a nine-way tie for first.
Crowe and Dann share the lead with Anthony Quayle and Jake McLeod from the morning wave, the pair of travel companions and regular roommates heading back to their digs in Coogee to enjoy the afternoon as the birdie fest continued thanks to some forward tees, lift, clean and place, as well as receptive greens.
Dimi Papadatos was the first with a chance to take the lead alone on a warm and sunny afternoon, however he was unable to bury a long putt on 18 and settled for seven-under with plenty of other things swirling in his head.
The Vic Open champion is part of a swathe of players making a dash to Wollongong tomorrow afternoon for Lincoln Tighe’s wedding, where Papadatos is on best man duties.
Playing in the group behind Papadatos, Jarryd Felton, fresh of his own recent win at Bonnie Doon and surely sick of answering questions about girlfriend Hannah Green’s twin victories, missed a very makeable birdie putt at 17 to also sign for 64.
It was the same story for former New Zealand Open winner Jordan Zunic who had good looks at the penultimate and ultimate holes to get to eight-under. The Wollongong product happy with 64 and his new “trust not try” mantra on the course.
Playing the other side of the course, Darren Beck put down the tools of cleaning up the storm mess last week at St. Michael’s Golf Club, where he is a greenkeeper, to resume his other job as a Tour pro. The two-time Asian Tour winner smiling from ear-to-ear sharing the lead on his third wedding anniversary.
Also playing the course back to front, and married himself two weeks’ ago today, Deyen ‘Digger’ Lawson had a 12 foot chance at the 9th hole, but settled for par and joked that a nine man play-off could prove interesting.
With plenty of birdies on offer, and more than 90 players under par it’s not out of the question just yet, with greenkeepers hoping to get rollers on the course before round two things might get a little tougher over the coming days.
5.50pm: Masterful Dann Makes It Eight
The top of the leaderboard at the Golf Challenge NSW Open isn’t just packed, it’s overflowing.
There are more than 90 players currently under par at Concord Golf Club where lift clean and place rules and soft greens after the heavy Sydney rains have created a birdie fest.
Queenslander Charlie Dann has the lead on his own at eight-under with a couple to play, elevating himself above the seven players tied at seven under.
Joining the morning triumvirate of Anthony Quayle, Jake McLeod and Harrison Crowe at minus seven were Dimi Papadatos, Jordan Zunic, Darren Beck and Jarryd Felton of the afternoon players.
Before Dann pushed past the brace of experienced players and one amateur on the back nine late Thursday.
Turning in four-under, Dann made eagle at the par-5 11th and followed it with birdies at the 13th and par-5 15th which the field is nearly a cumulative 100-under-par for the first round.
Certainly not counted among the longer hitters on the local circuit, Dann’s steady play coming with PGA Tour of Australasia sponsor Glenn Smith from Cisco Webex on the bag.
The former Keperra Bowl and Masters of the Amateurs winner likely to have a couple more chances to push past the seven unders, where a raft of great stories lie.
Beck is celebrating his third winning anniversary today and noted his body soreness after spending last week shovelling turf and rain damage at his other job as a greenkeeper at St. Michael’s in Sydney’s east.
Meanwhile, Dimi Papadatos is preparing to make a dash to Wollongong tomorrow afternoon for the wedding of Lincoln Tighe, where the recent Vic Open winner will serve as his fellow Tour player’s best man and McLeod and Quayle share a similar bond as regular roommates and travel companions.
There is also the recent NSW Amateur champion Crowe who was fearless on the big stage, while Jarryd Felton added a win of his own to the pair of his girlfriend Hannah Green at the TPS Sydney and Jordan Zunic is learning to “trust not try” when on the course after some frustrations of late as he attempts to live up to his prodigious promise.
3.45pm: Beck Mowin’ Down The Leaders
It took a little while, but the afternoon move is on at the Golf Challenge NSW Open, and its come in the form of a wave of five well-credentialled challengers with slightly different lead in form.
Darren Beck is at five under par, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour who last week wasn’t at Cypress Lakes for the TPS Hunter Valley, rather the now greenkeeper at St. Michael’s was back at his other job helping tidy up the course after the intense storms that hit Sydney.
Beck has played occasionally on Tour of late, but admitted earlier this week that he was a little sore before the first round after spending time with a shovel in his hand than sand wedge last week.
Dimi Papadatos was fortunate to get the late-early tee times for the first two days to assist his dash to Wollongong tomorrow to take his place as a groomsman for Lincoln Tighe. Papadatos, the recent Vic Open champion making the turn in four-under 31 after two birdies and a remarkable eagle at the uphill par-4 9th.
The Central Coast product adding another birdie at the 10th to go to five-under with some of the more scoreable holes on the course ahead of him as he continues his quest to secure a DP World Tour card via the Order of Merit.
Joining Papadatos and Beck at five under are Wollongong’s Jordan Zunic, and recent TPS Bonnie Doon winner Darren Beck.
Zunic got off to a poor start at the par-4 1st with a bogey, the shot gained back at the very next hole when the three-time NSW state representative making birdie at the 2nd hole.
NSW State Foursomes champion with PGA Tour winner Cam Davis making five more birdies by the time he reached the 12th tee.
After missing last week’s TPS event near his home in Newcastle with Covid, Andrew Dodt is clearly feeling no ill effects at Concord. The Asian Tour regular making back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th to join the ever growing group at five-under chasing the lead group of Anthony Quayle, Jake McLeod and Harrison Crowe at seven-under.
2.50pm: Ace The Tonic For A Tear From Collyer
We have a hole-in-one at the Golf Challenge NSW Open!
Victorian Blake Collyer has holed out from 129 metres with a pitching wedge at the downhill par-3 14th, the ace sandwiched by two birdies to take him to three-under-par after a slow start including a bogey at the long par-4 12th after starting on the 10th
He is now three-under-par, four shots behind the leading trio of Anthony Quayle, Jake McLeod and Harrison Crowe.
Although the scoring has not been as frantic as this morning’s wave, there are a couple of good rounds in the offing. Darren Beck is four under through six holes, while Dimi Papadatos and Jordan Zunic are also four under through nine.
12.40pm: No Dirt On Harry As Crowe Digs Deep
The morning wave of the Golf Challenge NSW Open are making their way into score return, with 2018 champion Jake McLeod and reigning NSW Amateur Harrison Crowe tied at the top at seven-under-par.
McLeod was hot early, making birdies at the 10th and 11th holes after starting on the back nine, a 20 footer eagle putt at the 13th making him the man to beat early on Thursday. A mix of bogeys and birdies over the remainder of his round seeing him sign for a 64.
Playing in the group ahead it was Crowe who garnered the most attention from the spectators on the ground at Concord after he got hot on his back nine having also started from the 10th tee.
Crowe rolled in a birdie from off the putting surfaces of the downhill par-4 7th, the St. Michael’s member telling Golf NSW on course that there was no way he was leaving the uphill 10 footer short having missed a number of other birdie attempts.
Missing the par-5 8th green right with his second shot, Crowe then delighted those watching around the green with an aggressive flop shot over the bunker that setup his seventh birdie of the day.
The 20-year-old had a chance to hold the clubhouse lead on his own at the par-4 9th after hitting his approach pin high inside 10 feet, before missing the putt on the low side for a bogey-free 64.
11.00am: McLeod on the March at Minus Seven
It’s an all-Queensland affair as the morning half of the draw head for home. 2018 Champion Jake McLeod is the man of the hour, and taken a two shot lead at seven-under-par with back to back birdies on the first and second. Close friend Anthony Quayle remains in second place at mins five.
Four players, including NSW Amateur Champion Harrison Crowe are in a tie for third at four under.
The damp conditions and lift clean and place rule are certainly having an impact on the scoring, with 37 in red figures for the day.
10.30am: Quayle sitting Pretty on top
After a brief tie at the top, Queenslander Anthony Quayle has taken the early solo lead sitting at five-under for the Golf Challenge NSW Open.
Quayle’s roommate for the week Jake McLeod is next best at four-under par.
There has been no blemishes on Quayle’s scorecard as yet after getting underway in the third group of the day off the 10th tee. The recent winner of the Queensland PGA making back-to-back birdies to start his day before par at the par-4 12th was followed by three consecutive birdies starting at the 13th, including a close approach to the par-3 14th.
It must be a #queenslander thing … @anthonyqgolf defies the shifting reporter’s mozz and drops a beauty in close on 14 then rolls it in to go -4 through 5 and join @jakemcleodgolf in early #nswopen lead at @ConcordGC pic.twitter.com/nrJ48TflZ1— Mark Hayes (@Hayesy24) March 16, 2022
McLeod also started his day with two birdies at the 10th and 11th before eagle at the 13th was followed by a bogey at the par-3 which he instantly bounced back from with birdie at the shortened par-5 next.
9.10am: Bombs Away Down The First
The short par-four 1st hole has yielded the first bit of excitement for the Golf Challenge NSW Open.
Playing downhill and measuring 325 metres from the back tee, Concord’s opener is within reach for most of the field and Northern Territorian George Worrall has taken full advantage.
The 23-year-old Kingston Heath member making an eagle two before two Golf Challenge NSW Open champions and Queensland PGA winner Anthony Quayle joined him at two-under.
Bryden Macpherson, the winner at this venue in 2021 birdied the short par-four 1st and the near 400 metre second, while 2018 champion Jake McLeod on the other side of the course also birdied his first two holes of the day playing alongside last week’s winner Aaron Pike and rising star from The Australian Golf Club Jeffrey Guan.
Meanwhile, in the next group off the 10th, McLeod’s regular Tour roommate Anthony Quayle matched his scores, while Cronulla based Scott Arnold has also got it tow two under
7.35am: Play Underway
The Golf Challenge NSW Open is officially underway for 2022 at Concord Golf Club. The first groups of Thursday’s morning wave making their ways off the 1stand 10th tees.
Despite the rain of the past fortnight, the greens crew have worked a minor miracle to have the Concord Layout in tip top condition. The weather gods are playing kind for the morning players, with the sun out is expected, but the bureau boffins are only saying a 30% chance of rain for the rest of the day.
The first tee saw a man who has already made a good start to the week get the action started, Queensland’s William Bruyeres making an ace during Tuesday’s practice round before hitting the opening driving of the championship at 7:30am AEDT.
At the same time on the 10th a great group to keep an eye on during early proceedings full of Aussie young guns started their work for the week. Reigning NSW Amateur champion Harrison Crowe teeing off the par-4 alongside Vic PGA winner Blake Windred and Gippsland Super 6 victor Jack Thompson.
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