28 Feb 2020 | Amateur golf |

Didone dodges Tassie Open bullet

by Mark Hayes

Aiden Didone lines up a putt at Ulverstone Golf Club.
Aiden Didone lines up a putt at Ulverstone Golf Club.

There were a few people who feared the worst in the fiery Tassie winds on Thursday ... none more so than defending Tasmanian Open champion Aiden Didone.

But what a difference a day can make.

The Victorian is one of three men who share the first-round lead after Friday's play, after a decision was made late on Thursday to cancel the wind-ravaged day one.

While others also benefited, it enabled Didone to wipe away an opening 80 in favour of a sparkling 71 that put him on top alongside fellow Victorian Toby Walker and New South Welshman James Conran.

Local hopeful Brayden Field, from nearby Wynyard Golf Club, is the leading Tasmanian at even par, along with Western Australia’s Hayden Hopewell.

The women's Tasmanian Open leaderboard features Victoria’s Alexandra Hilliard and last year’s runner-up Kathryn Norris of Western Australia’s at the top.

Norris and Hilliard both returned one-over-par rounds of 74 today to lead a quartet of golfers on three over par.

Local member Sarah Johnstone, Queensland’s Rhianna Lewis, Amelia Whinney of South Australia and Tasmania Golf Club junior Mackenzie Wilson all returned 76 to stay well in the title mix in far more manageable conditions.

Didone, in particular, was relieved with the organisers' decision to start afresh today with plans now in place to complete 36 holes on Saturday and have a 72-hole champion as originally planned on Sunday night.

Didone said there was "almost no way to stop the ball" on the greens in the savage winds, as he made four putts on each of the 17th and 18th greens to card his original eight-over 80.

"I thought I was hanging on all right (until the 17th), but the balls just weren't stopping ... there was nothing holding on the greens," Didone said of Thursday's play.

"I didn't think eight putts (on the closing holes) was too bad, actually, because anything could have happened.

"It just came out of nowhere and I'd never seen anything like it. I think they made the right decision."

Didone, who came from behind to win the Tassie crown at the same venue last year, was clearly keen to cash in on his good fortune.

"I really like this course and just needed to get away to a good start today and managed to do that," he said after starting three under through his opening six holes.

"The back nine is far tougher in my opinion, so happy to get through and be back in it again."

LEADERBOARDS

In the Women's Senior Masters, Prospect Vale's Tammy Hall holds a commanding four-stroke lead after round one.

Hall leads clubmate Lindsay French and Royal Hobart legend Lindy Goggin, both at 14 over.

Queensland’s Stephen Toyne leads the Men’s Senior Masters by one stroke at five over from Tasmania’s Robbie Bernie and Richard Denholm, Queensland’s Brad Dowling and Victoria’s Stephen Valentine.

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