Victorian David Bransdon (pictured) and first-year professional James Anstiss from New Zealand blitzed the Creek course at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links to share the lead after round one of the Oates Vic Open.
Teeing off in rainy conditions yesterday morning, Bransdon got his round off to a familiar start, his bogey-free eight-under 64 the same score from his first round in last year’s tournament, also on the Creek course.
“Maybe I should ask the organisers if we can play three rounds around here and just the one on the Beach instead,” Bransdon joked. “I just seem to hole putts over there; I get over to the Beach and don’t hole as many.”
Bransdon comes to the Oates Vic Open off a strong performance in the 2017 Australian PGA Championship where he finished tied fourth. He credits his solid form to his putting game; something he’s been working on with Gold Coast-based PGA professional Matt Ballard.
“I’ve always hit it really well and my putter is still in reasonable shape from the Australian PGA Championship,” Bransdon added. “I did some good work on my putting at the end of last year with Matt Ballard and basically worked on the same sort of stuff, the ball is rolling well for me. My big thing is stable knees and hips. He (Ballard) is constantly sending me videos and pictures of Jason Day and how well he does that, with constantly stable legs.
“The putter for me is what it comes down to, if you have 36 putts you’re never going to shoot eight-under. It’s a pretty easy task for me – if I hole putts I’m generally going to shoot a low score.”
When asked how he’ll approach today’s round on the Beach course, Bransdon said he’ll be aiming to manage the 18 holes and avoid getting himself in to trouble off the tees.
“There’s probably fewer drivers around the Beach course, you sort of plod your way around a bit more. It’s probably a little more generous off the tee on the Creek course; you’ve got to be a little more wary of more dangers around the Beach and position yourself more around there,” Bransdon said.
Anstiss, in just his second tournament as a professional, was also bogey-free around the Creek course in posting 64 for a share of the lead.
“I played pretty solid, I hit a lot of greens and putted really well,” said Anstiss who made his pro debut at the Rebel Sport NZ Masters. “I hit 16 greens, made a couple of 15-footers and hit a couple close. It was pretty stress-free; I didn’t really do much wrong. I had one really good par save on our 9th hole, which was the 18th, and the rest from there I made pretty easy for myself.”
Fellow New Zealander Nick Voke, also in his first year as a professional, is one shot further behind after a round of seven-under 65 on the Creek course.
“It’s nice to get off to a good start. As a rookie Pro it’s really important for me, I don’t exactly have all the finances in the world so it’s imperative to get off to a good start and hopefully I can kick on with it,” said Voke, who spent most of his young golf career playing in the NCAA with Iowa State University. “I was five-under through seven [holes] and then coming in I was hitting solid shots. It was a little on the scrappy side but every putt I saw went in.”
Victorian Peter Wilson joins Voke on seven-under par while star amateur David Micheluzzi, Taylor Macdonald and Harry Bateman sit in a tie for fifth at six-under par. Defending champion Dimi Papadatos, Matthew Giles, Tyler McCumber, Ash Hall, Matt Jager, Jordan Zunic and amateur Matias Sanchez are tied for eighth at five-under.
By Mark Hayes, golf.org.au
Practice? Way over-rated!
Just ask women’s Oates Vic Open leader Beth Allen and her nearest rival Cheyenne Woods, who belied unusual preparations to dominate Thirteenth Beach in the opening round.
The American pair were among those to arrive late from last weekend’s LPGA Tour event in the Bahamas, slashing their opportunities to practise on the Bellarine Peninsula links. But you wouldn’t have known it looking at the leaderboard, as the pair combined for 12 birdies and just one bogey on the Creek course.
It was impressive for the Scotland-based Allen (six-under), who’s more at home in the wind than most American golfers touring the region, because she’s been a regular visitor. But for Woods (five-under), who is on her Vic Open debut and having never even walked the course, it was superb, especially given her clubs didn’t arrive until late on Wednesday afternoon.
“My caddie was great – he came out yesterday and walked both courses and did his homework,” Woods said. “It was nice to be was able to make a few putts and give myself a lot of opportunities. I hit the ball well, which helped a lot on my first time out here.”
Woods, 27, joked that she might have to adopt the new preparation process for future events.
“I just took a nap and relaxed yesterday – it was great. So yeah, maybe just take naps and come out here and play golf. I also think it was nice after such a long travel day that it forced me to rest.”
Allen, the likeable veteran of many Australian campaigns, was similarly chilled in her beachside surrounds.
“I’m totally at ease in Australia, especially here. It’s great to be back and I’m really stoked that it’s an LET event now and it’s a really great way to start the European season,” said Allen, who primarily cashed in on the par-5s with four birdies of a possible five on the longer holes.
“But this is a special place, I have lots of friends around. It’s good to be back. I only arrived yesterday morning and didn’t have tonnes of expectations, which is usually good when you’re playing golf, so I just woke up and said, ‘Let’s see what happens’.
“It’s great to have (former Women’s Australian Open champion) Sophie [Gustafson as caddie] again. I kind of had visions of 2016, which was awesome and we had a lot of fun out there.”
On a day largely dominated by Ladies European Tour players, Swede Camilla Lennarth (four-under), Scotland’s Kylie Henry and England’s 2016 champ Georgia Hall (both three-under) were all prominent.
Not unsurprisingly, all of the above and were tucked away after calmer morning rounds, so it should be noted clearly that Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg and Australia’s world No.20 Minjee Lee did exceptionally well to share fourth at three-under in the afternoon’s stiffer breeze.
“I was really happy with that given I haven’t played (competitively) in so long,” said Lee, the 2014 champion here as an amateur. “I gave myself a lot of chances, particularly late in the round and didn’t make many putts, so for my first hit since the middle of November, that was all right.”
Alongside Lee as leading Australian is Wollongong’s Tahnia Ravnjak, a newly minted pro recently returned from the American college system.
Another past champ, Geelong-based Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord finished five off the lead at two-under, the same figure as the legendary dual Women’s Australian Open champion Laura Davies.
Of the other Australians, rookie professional Karis Davidson, Adelaide’s Stephanie Na and New South Wales’ Sarah Kemp each shot one-under. Hannah Green fought back well from an early double-bogey on the Beach course to sign at even-par alongside Whitney Hillier, Rebecca Artis and young amateur Jess Pickwick.
Su Oh and Stacey Peters fired one-over par opening rounds alongside defending champ Mel Reid, all at T-45 and narrowly inside the top-60 pros and ties who will make the halfway cut after today’s second round.