07 Feb 2021 | Professional golf |

Anstiss finds comfort at Moonah

by Contributor

James Anstiss PGA image
James Anstiss at Moonah Links on Saturday. Photo: PGA Tour of Australasia

By Tony Webeck, Australasian PGA Tour

Kiwi James Anstiss will call upon the memories of a pre-Christmas win in New Zealand after roaring home in the third round to take a one-shot lead at the Victorian PGA Championship at Moonah Links. Following the completion of the second round early Saturday morning, play moved from the Legends Course to the Open Course where the Peter Thomson behemoth was expected to rein in the low scores that dominated the opening two days. That proved to be the case for most players but on the back of a double-bogey at the par-four 11th Anstiss clicked into an extra gear, playing the final seven holes in just 21 strokes with only nine putts to shoot nine-under 63 and lead the way at 18-under par. Novocastrian Blake Windred will join Anstiss in the final group after his six-under 66 gave him a three-round total of 17 under par, Queensland’s Michael Sim (68) is in third a shot back followed by Chris Wood (66) at 15 under and Kiwi Pair Daniel Hillier (67), Michael Hendry (67) and New South Welshman Justin Warren (73) all at 14 under. A 15-foot birdie putt across the slope at the par-four 12th was the ideal response after his mishap at 11 but Anstiss didn’t stop there, making eagle at 15 and birdies at 14, 16, 17 and 18 to leave the rest of the field shaking their heads. “Obviously when someone shoots nine under you want to know what they’ve done and how they’ve finished,” said Wood. “He had a double on 11 and went crazy after that. That’s awesome golf. To do that on these final holes here... He eagled 15 and birdied 16 and they were playing straight into the wind today. They were tough holes." Windred said: “I just finished and the boys told me that James shot nine under... it’s nearly unbelievable. That’s such a good round out there.” For Anstiss it was the continuation of the good form that he first displayed in mid-December in winning the Christies Floorings Mount Open, his third Charles Tour win after travelling back and forth between New Zealand and the US in 2020. “I put my head down and worked really hard for a few months at the start of summer and that win at the end of 2020 in New Zealand was confirmation that I was playing great and I’ve been playing great ever since,” said Anstiss, a Queenstown native who also has a base on the Gold Coast when in Australia. “I was leading by one going into the last round and finished two ahead. It’s always an uncomfortable feeling when you’re leading – you’ve got adrenaline and nerves – but that’s the feeling you want. You don’t want to be not feeling uncomfortable. “You’ve got to go out there and deal with it and try and play your best and hit every shot to the best of your ability. I did that well about a month ago so hopefully I can do it again tomorrow.” Featuring in the final group as a professional for the first time, Windred has shown that he holds no fears for Sundays, shooting 65 on the last day in both the 2017 and 2018 NSW Opens to finish top-five whilst still an amateur. And while colder conditions and wind gusts of up to 35km/h are expected on Sunday, Windred is not ruling out a low final round score coming from somewhere in the field. “It’s inevitable that someone in the field will go low, usually people who go out early and shoot something pretty awesome,” said Windred, who was tied for 12th at the Gippsland Super 6 a fortnight ago. “If the wind gets up, I can’t see anything better than 10-under. I could see someone shooting 59 on the Legends Course but this is just different. Nine-under is awesome. Eight-under tomorrow would be another great score. It all depends on the conditions. If I can play tomorrow like I did today, I’ll be very happy."

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