IT’S a position that would make most golfers nervous, but James Nitties insists he’s enjoying the fact he’s staring the third round of the Australian Open as a shock leader.
Despite the fact marquee stars Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott loom ominously at Royal Sydney, the Novocastrian begins Saturday at nine-under-par and with a one-shot buffer over New Zealander Ryan Fox.
The first two rounds of the Open have set the scene for a dramatic moving day with 14 players within four shots of the lead.
“I like the position I’m in right now,” said Nitties. “Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve been up the top of the leader board in an Australian Open … it’s going to be pretty nerve wracking out there, but it’s a good feeling. It’s fun to be in the mix at a large event.”
The 34-year-old will be brimming with confidence after coming home in seven under yesterday, highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 second.
Nitties – who has had a harrowing few years playing pro ams and mini tours in the US – will play alongside Fox in the final pairing as both look to etch their names on the Stonehaven Cup for the first time.
They pair will be watching the scoreboards as world No.7 Scott builds momentum after firing a second round 65 to climb to six under for the tournament, while Spieth lurks a shot back. Rhein Gibson sits two shots of Nitties and the 30-year-old will look to draw inspiration from his fourth-place finish behind Rory McIlroy at Royal Sydney in 2013.