John Lyras isn’t Nostredamus but he did pick his number today. 63.
The Sydneysider told his partner on Friday evening that he’d go low on Saturday, and that’s what happened, a sparkling back nine 30 that catapulted him into outright second in challenging conditions at Rich River GC for the PLAY TODAY NSW Open.
Six birdies and an eagle (on 11) resulted in the round of the day, but not enough to overhaul joint overnight leader Kade McBride who followed up his superb eight-under 63 yesterday with a six-birdie, zero-bogey masterclass on Rich River’s East Course.
Great golf considering it was still 38 degrees and blowing hard when McBride and Lyras ended their rounds.
For Lyras, there’s other predictions he hopes come true. A win here guarantees him a ticket to the DP World Tour, which he will duly accept, even though his start to the Asian Tour has been solid as well (12th in the Order of Merit).
“That wind and heaviness out there called for some creativity,” he said.
“I struggled with that the first few days, but being able to bank a few shots in today, using the wind – it was a nice round to click in a little bit more.”
A further shot back at (-15) is Tom Power Horan who was solid with a -2 round. Power Horan and McBride will be joined in the final group by Lyras tomorrow afternoon, where golfing conditions are forecast to be much nicer.
David Micheluzzi (-5) and Dylan Perry (-3) moved into a share of fourth at -14, and still within striking distance. Meanwhile, yesterday’s record-breaking round from Sydney’s Nathan Barbieri was followed by a disappointing (-1) to be at -13. You can’t count him out given his ability to go super low.
Earlier, Elvis Smylie delivered on some of his burgeoning talent with a seven-under effort that left him smiling.
Yet to win since turning professional two years ago, the son of former Wimbledon tennis champion Liz Smylie turned in his best round of the week. The 28-year-old found eight birdies during the strongest winds of the day, with his sole bogey coming on the 2nd after he pulled it left into trees.
“I’m really liking the course. The greens are getting firmer which I like, and there’s definitely a bit of wind around making it challenging for everyone,” Smylie said.
“One more day to go and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Further back is Queenslander Jake McLeod who went four-under today and -12 overall as he seeks his second professional win having won the Kel Nagle Cup in 2018.
Other rounds of note included Illawarra product Jordan Zunic, who shot six-under 66, his best round of the week.
“We knew it as going to be a tough day, and I just tried to keep it in play off the tee, give myself lots of looks at birdie and made a few putts which was really nice,” he said.
Two long putts from off the fringe on the 9th and 12th were highlights in a round which places him at -10 and in the hunt.
“When you get a few of those (long-range putts) it really helps to get your round going,” he said.
Another Illawarra product Lincoln Tighe mixed seven birdies with three bogeys to finish at -4 for the day and -7 overall and in a tie for 18th. The big bomber from Dapto brought his A-game today, even though he could be forgiven for being distracted: his first wedding anniversary is today but his wife is back home waiting to give birth to their first baby.
Christopher Fan is leading the amateurs after shooting 66 to be one-shot clear of New Zealander Jayden Ford.
Join us tomorrow for live coverage and rolling updates as the hunt for the Kel Nagle Cup enters its final day.