18 Dec 2021 | Professional golf | Amateur golf |

McLeod wary of match play momentum

by PGA of Australia

2021 Vic PGA Champs Jake McLeod
Jake McLeod at the 2021 Vic PGA Champs. Photo: Henry Peters.

Written by Tony Webeck He roared into the top-eight qualifiers with Saturday’s round of the day yet Queensland’s Jake McLeod is wary of the winning match play momentum he will face on the final day of the Gippsland Super 6.

Following 54 holes of stroke play action at Warragul Country Club, the Gippsland Super 6 now moves into the sudden-death match play component, 24 players earning a place in the knockout rounds.

The top eight each receive a bye to advance directly to round two, an advantage McLeod secured following his round of six-under 64 in the third round that was highlighted by an eagle at the short par-4 sixth when he drove the green with 3-wood and converted from 15 feet.

While his surge up the leaderboard was as welcome as it was perhaps unexpected, McLeod knows that when he arrives to the tee on Sunday morning for round two he will be facing an opponent fresh off a first-up win.

“Match play is a weird one,” conceded McLeod, who was one of five players tied at nine-under to secure the final first-round byes after starting round three outside the top 24.

“If you have a win then you’ve had a look at the pins and got a feel for the course but with the bye you get to save some energy hopefully for later in the day.

“I guess it’s an advantage to have the bye because you can’t get knocked out but then again the guy you’re playing against is full of confidence.

“I don’t really know what’s better to be honest.”

Although his results were disappointing on the European Tour this year McLeod returned to Australia buoyed by how he mentally handled the travel component of life on tour.

He began his 2021/2022 PGA Tour of Australasia season with a tie for 41st at the Victorian PGA Championship at Moonah Links last week, gradually building into his summer schedule.

Even this week McLeod has improved round upon round and says it has just taken a few rounds to eliminate the rust-induced mistakes that have punctuated his rounds.

“My game has felt decent the past two weeks but every round has been the same,” said McLeod, the 2018 NSW Open champion.

“I was making a lot of birdies most rounds but a lot of mistakes each round too which was quite frustrating because I was playing good enough to play well.

“It was really up and down but today was my first round where I really felt that I was on top of it all day. My focus was good and I really got a lot out of how I played.

“That’s the first round where I feel like I’ve scored well.”

A teammate of Cameron Smith in Queensland’s 2013 Interstate Teams Matches victory, McLeod has plenty of match play experience to draw upon but says the six-hole matches add an element of urgency.

“Six holes is not long enough to wait for a mistake,” said McLeod.

“I’m a pretty aggressive player anyway so I’ll just stick to that. I hit driver a lot – it’s usually one of my better clubs – so if I can get that going it puts a lot of heat on the other guys, especially on such a short golf course.

“I’ll be quite aggressive I’d say.”

Michael Sim finished atop the leaderboard after 54 holes to lead all qualifiers with Andrew Dodt, Chris Wood, Bryden Macpherson, Daniel Beckmann, Shae Wools-Cobb and Kade McBride also receiving first-round byes.

Round one of matches begins at 6.45am on Sunday morning AEDT.

Visit pga.org.au for more information.

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