Kathryn Norris and Ben Ferguson have opened up a large gap at the top of the leaderboard during Round 1 of the WA Amateur at Cottesloe Golf Club.
Mandurah’s Norris fired a Cottesloe Golf Club course record 69 to lead by three shots over Kirsten Rudgeley of Wanneroo, while Ben Ferguson of The Vines shot 65 to lead by the same amount over Joseph Owen of Lake Karrinyup.
Owen's round was extra impressive considering he was the only golfer in the afternoon break par with his 68.
Five golfers in the men’s field sit in a tie for third with Simon Liddell, Nicholas Curnow, Cooper Geddes, Kiran Day and Fred Lee all at 3-under par.
Defending champion Min Woo Lee is a further two shots as he struggled to get his putter going while making five birdies and four bogeys.
Both Ferguson and Norris credited a strong start for their solid rounds, with Ferguson going unscathed through some tricky opening holes on the back nine.
“I just got off to a solid start,” said Ferguson.
“The first few holes are pretty difficult, so when I birdied the third hole (No. 12) it gave me confidence for the remaining holes which provide a lot of birdie opportunities.”
Looking for his first national rankings title, Ferguson says he will take a lot of momentum into the matchplay if he can hold on to first place when the strokeplay concludes tomorrow.
“I would be good to get the medal,” said Ferguson.
“It would give me a lot of confidence going into the matchplay — if I get there!”
In her course record 69, Norris had just one bogey to go with her four birdies. The reigning WA Junior Amateur champion started with birdies on 11 and 16 to be 2-under through her opening seven holes.
“I had a couple birdies at the start which got me going,” said Norris.
“I stayed steady and it turned out to be a good one.”
Norris is in top form, coming off wins at the WA Junior Amateur and SA Junior Masters in the past few months. Just last week she won the Nedlands Junior Masters by 11 as her putter ran hot.
“I’ve had a couple lessons with Ritchie Smith on my putting and we found a couple of errors that I’ve been fixing up,” said Norris.
“It’s been helping me — I definitely feel like I’m rolling the ball a lot better in the last couple of weeks and it’s been paying off.
At just 15, Norris hasn’t had too many chances to compete in an open event, but the Mandurah golfer isn’t getting ahead of herself with up to four days remaining.
“[Tomorrow’s plan is to] not take any risks and play within myself I think. You get your good days and bad days so I’ll see how it goes.”