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The Australian GC & The Lakes GC, NSW

30 Nov - 3 Dec, 2023

30 Nov 2023 | Australian Open |

Men's wrap: Davis finds 63 reasons for coming home

by Martin Blake

Cam Davis image
Cam Davis acknowledges the crowd support at The Lakes today: Photo: Gregg Porteous

Cam Davis loves that feeling of being at home in Sydney and it showed with his scintillating first-round 63 at The Lakes to lead the ISPS Handa Australian Open men’s tournament today.

The Seattle-based, Sydney-born Davis, 28, has visions of becoming one of the best players in the world and today’s performance was certainly world class.

He had seven birdies and a brilliant eagle at the par-5 14th hole at The Lakes, which played somewhat easier than The Australian down the road, and which produced most of the day’s best scores.

The New South Welshman leads by a shot from US-tour player Patrick Rodgers and Scotland’s Connor Syme, who both had 64s.

A further shot back is Perth rookie professional Hayden Hopewell at 6-under par 65 on The Lakes, and another Scot, Grant Forrest, also impressed on the tougher Australian with his 65.

Last week’s Fortinet Australian PGA Championship winner Min Woo Lee began tidily with a 5-under 67 at The Lakes, but Cameron Smith’s struggles of last week in Brisbane were largely an issue again.

He scrapped out a 1-under 71 at The Lakes and will need to find something at The Australian on Friday to ensure that he is around for the weekend.

The top 60 and ties will go through to the third and fourth rounds and Smith is tied-56th right now.

“Yeah, frustrating,” said the Queenslander. “I think it could have been a few less, to be honest. I kind of missed a couple of putts there towards the end of the round when I started to feel all right. A little bit frustrating, but it was better.”

Heavy rain on Wednesday forced tournament officials to allow preferred lies on closely mown areas on Thursday and the softer greens were to everyone’s liking.

But another heavy shower flooded at least one green at The Lakes and caused a 40-minute suspension in the middle of the day.

Fortunately for world No. 42 Davis, he had finished by then.

The Lakes is not his home club – he spent most of his youth playing at Monash and Roseville having started at the par-3 track at Terry Hills – but it is not in the slightest unfamiliar with the surrounds.

“I know this place relatively well, so I felt like I had plenty of good memories in the bank to go out and play the course with. That’s by far the cleanest round I’ve ever had around here and without the wind, it was awesome to make the most of the conditions the way they were.”

He will have his turn at the tougher of the two courses on Friday.

“Well the start here was a key,” he said. “You want to make the most of good conditions out here, because there is the opportunity to go low, so very happy with the start and now it’s just about finding rhythm out there.

"It’s a different golf course, different grass, probably different conditions today, as well for the rest of the week. So you’ve just got to start all over again pretty much and try and find your rhythm and if you do, get three rounds in a row now at the same place and get used to the sidelines and fingers crossed some more good play.

"I’d love to be right up there on Sunday.”

Smith's round included a ball into the water on his second hole, the par-5 11th and he drowned another one three holes later, but it was steady work for most of the morning.

"I missed a couple of putts at the end of the round when I started to feel alright," he said.

"There's definitely something to build on there - I didn't feel as anxious or uncomfortable."

Davis tees off at 12.22pm on Friday in the second round, playing at The Australian.

Smith and Lee are also at The Australian, off the first tee at 12 noon and on the evidence of today’s crowd at The Lakes, bound to have a big following again.

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