David Micheluzzi blasts from the bunker on 15 at Royal Melbourne. Picture: ANTHONY POWTER
For 14 holes today, David Micheluzzi had mighty Royal Melbourne at his mercy.
At seven under par playing the short par-five 15th, the Metropolitan member and VIS athlete was staring down the barrel of something really special in the opening round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs.
That his white-hot putter suddenly went cold – twice on short par putts – was obviously the key factor in him finishing with a 67 and tied second one behind good mate Zach Murray.
But in the next breath, it proved the Cranbourne 19-year-old’s game has gone to another level after his recent runner-up finish in the Victorian Amateur championship.
Micheluzzi, who went with Murray after his round back to the VIS for a cool-down workout with strength and conditioning coach Luke Mackey, was both happy and disappointed with his score.
“I know 67 is a really good score, but I was seven under playing 15 and had three lip-outs in the last four holes (15, 17 and 18) – it could have been anything,” he said.
“But I take a lot of confidence out of that – especially the 31 on the front nine.
“I got off to a good start and putts were dropping. I didn’t putt too great (here) last year, so this was a good progression.
“But over the past few months, it’s really started to work for me. Coming second at the Vic Am was pretty big for me in the scheme of things and gave me a lot of confidence.
“This is one of the biggest events in Australia and to start like that just reinforces … the form and confidence, really.”
The effervescent Victorian state team player was a course marshal on Royal Melbourne during the 2011 Presidents Cup and says his local knowledge is a huge aid against a strong international field this week.
“I know this course backwards, know how hard the greens are and which ones are softer than others, and the (subsequent) bounces,” he said.
“It’s really wide, so ball striking isn’t an issue, so it’s really up to the putter.”
And if Micheluzzi needed proof he could compete against some of the world’s best amateurs, he need look no further than his training companion, who shot a 66 to begin his title defence.
“Muzza, playing with him at VIS, I know I can compete with him and I know he’s defending and that makes you realise and know you can do something this week,” Micheluzzi said.
“So seeing Zach win it last year was cool. He was 17 at the time … so to know we can do these sort of things is as enormous boost.
“It makes you think you can do this … like your game belongs. It’s a good feeling.”