21 Jan 2021 | Professional golf |

Booze ban works for Lawson

by Contributor

Deyen Lawson image
Deyen Lawson on his way to an opening 64 today. Photo: Australasian PGA Tour

By Tony Webeck, Australasian PGA Tour

A self-imposed booze ban and blissful ignorance of the birdie barrage he was unleashing has given Gold Coast-based Deyen Lawson a two-stroke advantage after the opening round of the Gippsland Super 6 at Yallourn Golf Club in Victoria. An afternoon of all-out attack ended with an outright leader and a host of spurned contenders in an exhilarating first round, Lawson’s 10 birdies in an eight under 64 putting him two strokes clear of Dimi Papadatos and Michael Wright. In the first ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia four-round tournament since the NZ Open last February, Victorian pair Marcus Fraser and Ben Eccles led the way in the morning field with rounds of five-under 67, both of which could have been better if not for late slip-ups on the 328-metre par-four ninth. Both Fraser and Eccles eagled the par-five fifth hole but Fraser’s bogey and Eccles’ unfortunate double kept them from taking sole ownership of the lead ahead of the afternoon wave. Their five under total was under immediate threat from New South Welshmen Papadatos and Nathan Barbieri, the pair starting on opposite nines but both plundering the tight Yallourn layout for five birdies in their opening six holes. Barbieri got to eight under with three holes to play in his round but a double-bogey at seven and another dropped shot at eight sent him back to the chasing pack at five under. After five birdies in his opening six holes and an eagle at the 370-metre par-four 10th Papadatos also looked like going low first up but a bogey at 17 offset by a closing birdie at 18 left him at six under and two behind Lawson. After starting with a bogey at 10 Lawson soon found his rhythm, racking up 10 birdies over the remainder of his round to end day one with a handy buffer, crediting a decision to give up alcohol in September and a COVID-induced reality check for his sharper focus. “Normally I’d enjoy myself a little bit when I’m home but I’ve stopped drinking completely since September and I feel like when I’m practising I’m a lot more focused,” revealed Lawson, who made the final four of the Blitz Golf Glenelg event on January 10. “COVID is probably going to make people go either way. Find a job and do that or, for me, it’s made me wake up a bit. I was a bit miserable there for a bit but now I feel better than I ever have and I’m ready. Even my coach said last week, now it’s just a matter of getting stuff to play in. “I’m feeling better and now it’s just a matter of trusting what I’m working on and taking each shot at a time.” After dropping a shot on his opening hole Lawson rebounded with a birdie at 11 and turned in 33, his back nine of five-under 31 highlighted by a birdie that may have eluded him in years gone by. “I didn’t hit a good drive off the par five, the fifth, and it was going to be a really risky shot to even get it up near the green,” Lawson explained. “I decided to chip out with a six iron to a good number – which ended up being 82 metres, just a little sand wedge – and I hit that to half a foot and nearly holed it. I made birdie that way where previously I would have tried a bit much. “I know roughly what I am in terms of my score but I think not knowing how many birdies I’ve had might be a good thing. I do sometimes make eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 birdies in a round and not realise it. If you started thinking about how many birdies you’d had maybe you wouldn’t do it very often.”

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