Queenslanders Jake McLeod, Anthony Quayle and brilliant New South Wales amateur Harrison Crowe are the early leaders in the Golf Challenge NSW Open at Concord after blazing 64s in the morning rounds.
At seven-under par the trio are out in front by two shots.
Crowe, the 20-year-old from St Michael’s who won the NSW Amateur this year to go with two Victorian Amateur titles, said he “hit it solid all day” in his opening 64 in heavy conditions at Concord.
The NSW squad member made long putts at the seventh and eighth holes, and loved his grouping with Blake Windred and Jack Thompson, both recent winners on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
“It was a surprise and quite nice to play with Thomo and Blake, obviously world-renowned players and extremely good blokes. It was awesome to be out there with them today.”
Recent appearances in pro tour events have helped his nerves. “I felt a lot more comforatble coming into this week after the last couple of weeks in pro events. It’s a bit different to amateur golf but the nerves have tamed down a little bit.”
Crowe said he wanted to stay as an amateur for a while longer, even though he appears to be ready for pro status. “I feel ike it’s creeping up,” he said. “I just odn’t want to rush it at the same time. I’ve got a full year of amateur golf and a lot going on.”
McLeod, 27, who suffered a difficult year in Europe on the DP World Tour, started hot at four under through four after he eagled the par-five 13th hole from 20 feet. Beyond that his putter kept him rolling, and he made a string of good par-saves.
The experience overseas has left him with some perspective.
“It taught me that golf sucks when you play bad,” he said. “Last year was terrible. It was a tough six months up there. I’ve just accepted it, took it on the chin and did the work when I came home, and I’m starting to play a bit better now.”
Anthony Quayle, who is a contender for the top-three spot on the order of merit, eagled the eighth, his second-last hole, to get himself to the top of the leaderboard.
“I stayed patient,” said Quayle, who finished just outside the top 20 here last year. “I had it going a little bit early and was five under after six, but then I went really quiet for a long time and I had to be patient because I felt like it could have got away from me because it could have got away from me when I wasn’t making birdies when perhaps I should have and then made a nice eagle on the eighth and it ended up being a pretty nice round.”