A young dad on a sponsor’s invitation is the clubhouse leader in the Play Today NSW Open at Rich River Golf Club in the Murray River region.
Dylan Perry, who famously washed cars during COVID to make a living only a year after finishing runner-up in the 2018 British Amateur, made the most of his invitation with a flawless 7-under 64 playing in the more challenging conditions in the afternoon, as winds picked up from the west.
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“I played nicely yesterday in the pro-am so I had some good feelings coming in to today,” he said.
“From my perspective the wind was on our side today (playing downhill on key holes) even though there was a quite a bit (of wind) there. I haven’t played much this year and I’m going back to Japan next week so I’m excited to get the year started.”
The challenges of a year off during COVID, being locked out of the Asian Tour and having to make ends meet might be a tipping point for some, but not Perry. Fatherhood has delivered an abundance of perspective.
“I’m having a ball and loving it (fatherhood) doing the daycare pick-up and looking after the little one until mum gets home. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Perspective might be the word of the day. In a completely different situation is Kiwi Ryan Chisnall who fired off eight birdies in his six-under 65 having missed the previous five cuts in events he has entered, prompting thoughts about a different career.
“Max Homa said it the other day. You’re one great swing away from winning the Masters, and one bad swing away from considering retirement,” said Chisnall, 28.
“I’ve been pretty hard on myself. It’s a tough game.
“Just last week I was talking to my partner about what we’d do, whether I go to Q school, or get a job and do something different.
“I’ve been though the roller coaster like most golfers. But it was nice to get the juices flowing today. I made eight birdies, and it’s been a long time since I’ve done that. Hopefully it’s something to build on for the rest of the week.”
At six-under are Victorians Ben Wharton and Tom Power Horan, with Corey Lamb (NSW) also at -6 and well placed to attack tomorrow.
Veteran Peter Wilson continued his crazy recent form – the Victorian shot back-to-back 59s at Lang Lang Golf Club last week – with a stellar opening round of 66. Matthew Goggin also made seven birdies in his opening round, but bogeys on two of the par threes left him one shot back at -5.
The chase is also coming from the youngsters.
In 2019, Newcastle schoolboy Jake Riley made headlines for earning a start in the NSW Open as a 14-year-old. He wasn’t even the youngest, that record belongs to fellow Novacastrian Blake Windred who grabbed a spot aged 12.
Fast forward four years and Riley, who is still in high school, is playing in the Open, only this time he has brought his A-game shooting a six-birdie round of 66 to be leading amateur.
“I didn’t do much wrong today, only the one bogey and I just kept it in play all day. It was pretty stress-free,” said the Novacastrian.
“I Monday qualified for the Open when I was 14. Getting back here now I feel my game is much better and I was looking forward to seeing how I could go against the pros and it’s been a good start.”