29 Apr 2022 | Professional golf |
Aussies soar on world tours
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
Aussie trio Minjee Lee, Anthony Quayle and Harrison Endycott are all on top after the opening round in three separate events in Japan, California and Alabama.
Gold Coaster Quayle will take a two-shot buffer into his second round of The Crowns on the Japan Golf Tour at 12.10pm AEST Friday, Lee is a one-stroke leader at the LPGA Tour’s Palos Verdes Championship while Endycott is tied with American Zack Fischer at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Huntsville Championship in Alabama.
At a venue where he has played well previously and buoyed by rounds of 64-65 last weekend, Quayle posted a bogey-free nine-under 61 on Thursday at Nagoya Golf Club’s Wago Course.
Aiming to become the seventh Australian to win The Crowns – joining the likes of Graham Marsh, David Graham and Greg Norman – Quayle peeled off seven birdies in his opening 13 holes, dropping a bomb from 45 feet for birdie at 17 and adding a second at 18 holes for a two-shot lead.
The Queensland PGA champion in January, Quayle was fifth at The Crowns in 2019 and joint Round 1 leader in 2018 and as he chases his first Japan Golf Tour victory feels comfortable atop the leaderboard through the opening round.
“Being in this position doesn’t add more pressure (to win),” insisted Quayle, who will commence his second round at 12.10pm AEST.
“It’ll happen eventually, I believe, so this is just another opportunity to do it.
“It was a fun day. It feels really comfortable to be able to hit the kind of golf shots around here. And I’ve had some good performances here, so I feel very relaxed around here.”
On the back of his stellar weekend at the ISPS HANDA Championship that delivered a tie for sixth, Quayle has now gone 28-under through 90 holes after posting his fifth straight sub-70 round.
But he is taking nothing for granted, knowing that he needs to secure four consistent low rounds if he is to secure his maiden win in Japan this week.
“Last week’s performance has definitely allowed me to free up my game a little,” added Quayle.
“The last time I shot a nine-under (on a par-72 course) in a tournament was on the European Tour at the Fiji international in 2018.
“I’ve won a couple of times in Australia since then, and I also had a few leads in Japan.”
Fellow Australians Brad Kennedy and Andrew Evans posted matching 66s to be tied for ninth heading into Round 2 with Matthew Griffin, Adam Bland, David Bransdon and Kiwi Michael Hendry all in a share of 28th at two-under par.
“I’m very pleased with myself as I’m playing both a new course and tournament this week. The weather was perfect for scoring,” said Evans.
“I played great and gave myself a lot of chances. Hopefully, I can keep this momentum going.”
The Aussie flag is also flying high at the LPGA Tour’s Palos Verdes Championship in California. West Australian Minjee Lee will start day two with a one-shot buffer from world No.1 Jin Young Ko after she too went bogey-free in her opening round, not going more than three holes without a birdie in a round of eight-under 63.
Tied for third at last week’s DIO Implant LA Open, Lee needed just 24 putts on day one as she peppered the pins with laser-like wedge play.
“The front nine we have a lot of wedges into the holes, so I just took advantage of that,” said the 25-year-old.
“There is a lot of birdie opportunities starting the front nine. Even like the first hole and the second and third, they’re all wedges in. Six, seven and eight. The par 5 (seventh) as well you can get on for two and it’s probably a given for everyone in the field this week.
“I just think there is a lot of opportunities in a row that you can kind of capitalise on.”
Two-under at the turn, Endycott’s round caught fire courtesy of an eagle at the par-5 10th, following it up with consecutive birdies at 11 and 12 to surge up the leaderboard.
A dropped shot at the 13th saw the Sydneysider fall back to five-under but birdies at 15 and 18 earned him a share of the lead with a seven-under 63.
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