John Lyras leads the men’s event for the second day in a row, but Western Australian Whitney Hillier upstaged her more famous WA compatriot Hannah Green at 13th Beach today in the second round of the Vic Open.
Lyras began the day with a two-shot lead in the men’s competition and shot a 66 to go with his opening 64, extending the advantage to three by day’s end.
He has picked a good week to find his best. The 25-year-old pro from St Michael’s Golf Club in southern Sydney is chasing his first professional win this week, but he is making a nice fist of it so far.
Today he immediately birdied his first and second holes despite a fluky south-easterly breeze whipping across 13th Beach Golf Links.
His lead grew to four shots for a time and his exclamation mark came at the par-four ninth hole, his final hole of the day, when he putted from off the fringe of the green straight into the cup from monster range.
“I had a good line on it,” he said later. “It was nice to be able to raise the putter in front of the crowd.”
Lyras is at an imposing 14 under through 36 holes and his nearest challenger is another New South Welshman, Dimi Papadatos, who carded a 68 today, at 11 under.
Queenslander Jake McLeod (67) and Victorian Cameron John (68) are tied third at 10 under.
Lyras, the Sydneysider who came to golf later because of an attachment to cricket as a left-hand opening batsman, is embracing the attention of being the leader.
“It’s not the first time I’ve done it but this feels very different,” he said. “People out here, people following you everywhere, not Covid-effected per se. But this is why we play golf. This is where you want to be.
“You can’t get tired of it, if you love the game this much. I just want to keep doing it.”
Hillier, the 31-year-old Ladies European Tour star originally from Geraldton, ripped up the Creek Course with a five-under par round of 67 to seize the lead in the women’s event at 10 under par.
The highlight of the West Australian’s round was an eagle on the par-5 second where she hit driver then a 3-wood to set up a three-metre putt.
She also had four birdies to set an imposing target for the afternoon field including Hannah Green, the world No. 30.
Green was steady in her two-under 70 today but finished two shots back from her former WA state teammate Hillier at eight under overall.
Queenslander Cassie Porter and Victorian Su Oh are in the mix at four under overall.
Hillier will play in the last group with her friend and former WA amateur teammate Green tomorrow and said she would welcome the extra attention. “I love it,” she said. “It’s what I’m here for. I can’t wait for the weekend,” she said.
“Whatever happens, happens but I’m just going to have some fun.”
The players move to the Beach course for the final two rounds beginning tomorrow.