23 Oct 2020 | Professional golf |
Barbieri on top at NT PGA
From PGA Tour of Australasia Media
Nathan Barbieri’s decision to delay turning professional may prove to be costly after the 22-year-old amateur fired an opening-round six-under 65 to take a one-shot lead at the $70,000 Tailor-Made Building Services NT PGA Championship on Friday. In a field boasting tournament winners in the US, Europe and Asia, Barbieri played the front-nine at Palmerston Golf and Country Club in just 30 strokes, closing his round with his sixth birdie in just eight holes at the par-five ninth. That final birdie edged the New South Welshman one shot clear of former US PGA TOUR player and Friday playing partner Michael Sim (66) with another rising amateur prospect, Australian amateur champion Jed Morgan, a further shot back in outright third. Runner-up at the 2019 Australian Amateur and winner of the Avondale Amateur in February, Barbieri was planning to use 2020 as his swansong to the amateur ranks including a tilt at the US Amateur that wasn’t played until August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asia-Pacific Amateur at Royal Melbourne Golf Club was also reason to resist graduating to the professional tier ahead of time and Barbieri said the ongoing uncertainty around scheduling convinced him to adopt a cautious approach. “I was definitely going to turn pro this year but everything keeps getting cancelled by the minute,” said Barbieri, a member of Monash Country Club in Sydney. “I just thought that it really wasn’t the right time. There’s only one tournament to play for the rest of the year so it could go either way, be really good or be doing it for no reason. I’ve played a lot of amateur golf and competed pretty well in pro events so I feel like I’m ready in my opinion. "The next step is to turn when there’s a consistent schedule to play. I thought that if I was hesitant about it being the right time then I wasn’t going to do it.” An “average bogey” on his opening hole was a less than ideal start but Barbieri soon bounced back with consecutive birdies at 11 and 12 to enter red figures. He narrowly missed an opportunity to pick up a further shot at the par-4 first and then followed up a birdie at the par-5 second by rolling one in from off the green at three to continue his surge up the leaderboard. “I actually felt pretty good going to the first tee, no nerves or anything,” said Barbieri, who only entered the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia tournament 10 days ago. “I just needed to get on the course because I haven’t played anything for six months or so. I holed a long one from off the green at three which kept the momentum going and then I hit a nice shot into the fifth hole and made birdie there. “It was good to finish that way because I was struggling a bit with pitching and distance control so to have a few birdies coming in was nice.” Experienced trio Aaron Pike, Dimi Papadatos and Deyen Lawson are well positioned after opening rounds of 68 along with Queensland Open runner-up Jack Thompson and long bomber Justin Warren, Warren holing his second shot for eagle at the par-4 third to make a sudden jump to 3-under. Leading scores after Round 1 65: Nathan Barbieri (a) 66: Michael Sim 67: Jed Morgan (a) 68: Aaron Pike, Dimitrios Papadatos, Jack Thompson (a), Deyen Lawson, Justin Warren 69: William Hetherington (a), Jay Mackenzie
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