November 2024 – Murray Downs Golf Resort

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High emotions: “It could have been a 59, easy.”

These were the words of an emotional Ernie Barbieri after his son Nathan broke the course record at Rich River’s East Course only hours after it had been set by three stars of the game on a day of excellent scoring in the PLAY TODAY NSW Open.

Barbieri, 26, scored nine birdies in a flawless round to update the course record to 62, literally hours after Kade McBride, Jake McLeod and Connor McKinney returned with a brace of 63s.

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MAC ATTACK – Kade And Jake Power To Course Records

Overall scoring was the highlight of the day with 70 players at -2 or better. 

“He’s only missed two fairways all day, the 11th and the 18th (both pars 5s), and he’s only walked off with pars on those,” Ernie said of his son Nathan’s record round. 

“His putting has been good … (voice cracking) … I’m very proud. His putting was great today. It could have a 59, easy. He left a few out there.”

It’s the likeable Sydneysider’s second course record in his short professional career, having shot a 61 at The Players Series at Rosebud CC in 2021, in the first round of his second ever professional event. 

Everything came together today, missing only two fairways but hitting every green in regulation and finding his putter warming up with the afternoon sun. 

“Dad gets very emotional, actually,” Barbieri said. 

“I went alright here a couple of years ago and he was emotional then, he’s emotional now. I don’t think it’ll ever change, which is good. Sometimes it’s hard to see, because I don’t want to cry when he’s crying. He’s really behind me with everything.”

The excitement of owning the course record evaporated as quickly as a McFlurry in the sun for Kade McBride and Jake McLeod, rooming together at Rich River, when they returned with a pair of 63s (-8) in the morning groups.

McBride’s nine birdies started at the par five 1st, but he quickly gave it back on the tough par four 4th, playing back into the morning wind. The remainder of his round was the stuff of dreams, eight birdies from the sixth hole to finish clubhouse leader at -13.

McLeod later admitted to having “never felt that comfortable” during his eight-birdie round that was bogey-free but also could have been anything.

“I never felt that comfortable today with my hitting, but my short game and putting were a lot better,” said the 28-year-old Queenslander.

Today it “was a lack of confidence in where it was going,” he laughed. 

“I drove it really well on the practice days, but today it felt like my body wasn’t moving well.”

Overnight leader Dylan Perry recovered from a pair of bogeys at the start of his round (holes two and three), and a disastrous double-bogey on the driveable 17th to shoot four-under for the day to sit two back of leaders McBride and Victorian Tom Power Horan (-13). 

Horan backed up his opening round of 65 to go one better, consolidating his spot in this event after winning the Murray Open last year.

Other notable scores this morning include a seven-under round from Darren Beck (-8) and Victorian David Micheluzzi who backed up his opening 67 with a five-under 66 to be alone in 6th and within striking distance.

In other good news, New Zealander Ryan Chisnall actually had a rather forgettable day for him (74), especially after his stunning opening 65, to make his first cut in six events. 

Now it’s showtime.

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