01 Dec 2023 | Australian Open | Men's Australian Open | Professional golf |
Vegas and Niemann’s matching rounds and attitudes
by Jimmy Emanuel
Jhonattan Vegas and Joaquin Niemann could almost have been singing from the same hymn book after their second rounds of the ISPS HANDA Australian Open, the pair in the hunt for the Stonehaven Cup behind leader Min Woo Lee.
Both bemoaning putters that stayed cold on Saturday at The Lakes while Lee was heating up The Australian and the large crowds, Niemann and Vegas spoke glowingly of the golf and Australian fans after finishing the day on 8-under, four back of Lee.
“I’ve been enjoying Australia ever since I got here. There are nice people following, nice crowd,” Niemann said.
Returning from a prolonged injury break that took him off the golf course for eight months, PGA TOUR winner Vegas was similarly glowing in his praise of Australia and Australians.
“The experience has been amazing, man. Like I’ve said from the beginning, I love it here,” he said.
“I enjoy it here. Even though it’s a long way away, I enjoy coming here and I have lots of friends. Lots of Australian guys I play on the PGA TOUR are here.
"I feel like I have a great relationship with them.”
The pair’s round descriptions were almost interchangeable following matching Friday 69s that came without a bogey, Vegas enjoying his day a little more when he holed out for an eagle two at the par-4 13th early in the round.
“We had a pretty good day overall, not much to really complain about," he said.
"Just gave myself a lot of opportunities and didn’t make any of them. Just made one putt all day.”
All of Niemann’s three birdies coming on The Lakes back nine.
“I think I played amazing. I didn’t miss any shots on the tee and didn’t miss any shot, I don't know if I missed the green for the whole round,” Niemann said.
“I mean, it’s kind of good and also disappointing at the same time I couldn’t be able to shoot a really low round today.”
Where the pair of title hopefuls do differ is their approach over the weekend. Whereas Niemann will be hyper focused on improving his scoring and challenging for the title, Vegas is just happy to be back playing tournament golf.
“No expectations to be honest. I’m just going to go there and play golf,” he said.
“Whatever the weekend brings, it’s going to bring, right? I’ve just got to let my game slowly get into it … one shot at a time and just enjoy the weekend.”
An enjoyable weekend is yet another piece of common ground for the pair of foreign raiders.
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