16 Mar 2023 | Professional golf |

Perry's stunner on day one of NSW Open

by Martin Blake

Dylan Perry image
Dylan Perry on his way to a brilliant 64 at Rich River. Photo: David Tease, Golf NSW

Dylan Perry needed an invitation to get a start in the PLAY TODAY NSW Open at Rich River today, and the Gold Coast-based professional duly capitalised in spades.

A stunning, 7-under-par opening round of 64 despite having to play in the tougher afternoon conditions saw him vault to the top of the leaderboard after round one on the Murray.

The 28-year-old who plays most of his golf on the Japanese Tour is playing just his second tournament of the year.

He had seven birdies and no blemishes on his card, and he leads by a shot from New Zealander Ryan Chisnall, New South Welshman Corey Lamb and Victorians Ben Wharton and Tom Power Horan (65 today).

Originally a Hunter Valley product, Perry was not as surprised as others to see himself on top of the leaderboard.

“I played nicely yesterday in the pro-am so I had some good feelings going into today. I got the ball rolling on the greens so I put it down to the putter today, for sure,” he said.

Rich River’s East course played a little tougher than expected on the first day, especially for the afternoon players who were dealing with a fluky wind, but Perry was not bothered.

“I think the wind was on our side today, even though there was a bit there,” he said.

He heads back to Japan in a week to resume playing that tour, but after a difficult couple of years – he was locked out of Japan and unable to play through much of the Covid period – he has a spring in his step.

“I chose to travel in 2021 after Covid,” he said. “Obviously having your career taken away from you for a year is pretty tough. You’re pretty eager to get back. I did four months away, four quarantines, and I then did an extra five months’ stint away before Christmas. Luckily there were a few Aussies there we could hang out with.”

He is also a relatively new father of daughter Zyli, which has given him a fresh perspective. Working in the mornings at his local golf club on the Gold Coast, he does the day care pick up and then tends his daughter until his partner returns from work. “I’m having a ball, I’m loving it, wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Power Horan’s 6-under 65 also came in the windy afternoon conditions and puts him in a good position as he tries to climb up the Order of Merit and earn himself a DP World Tour card for 2023-24.

The Melburnian is currently fifth on the rankings with one tournament remaining on the tour, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in a fortnight. The top three earn DP World Tour cards.

“It’s definitely on my mind but every day’s a new day and I need to play good golf,” he said.

Joining him in a tie for second are Kiwi Chisnall, 28, and Wharton, 36, both working against a lack of recent good form on the tour, along with Sydney pro Lamb.

In fact, Chisnall was pondering his future as a touring pro inside the last week having missed the cut in each of his first five tournaments of 2023, while Wharton took up a golf coach for the first time in more than five years since his original coach, his father Gary, passed away of a terminal illness.

Chisnall had eight birdies. “I’ve been playing a lot better than my scores reflected,” he said. “I’ve been really hard on myself. It’s a tough game and it can grind you down. This week I tried to free it up and let it happen. I was talking to my partner last week and we were thinking about what we were going to do next year, I was actually contemplating whether I go to Q-School or go and get a job, go and do something else, kind of get away from it. It can be hard work.

“I’ve gone through those rollercoasters before. Every golfer has those times. Every golfer is only one swing away from playing good. I think (PGA Tour pro) Max Homa was quoted a couple of weeks ago as saying ‘you’re one swing away from winning the Masters and one swing away from retirement’. I completely agree. I feel that.”

Wharton, meanwhile, said he was reaping the benefits of finally having a golf coach again – PGA Professional Joel Ward who works out of Eynsbury Golf Club on the western outskirts of Melbourne, with a new approach. “To be honest I read a lot of psychology books and I tried to play golf with my brain instead of my body, as such,” he said. “Which works to a capacity, but under the extreme pressures, if your swing fails or you have a flaw, it makes it difficult to hit good shots when there’s 1000 people watching or you’re vying for a trophy.”

Power Horan, Chisnall, Lamb and Wharton are a shot ahead of a bunch of players who opened with 66 – Tasmanian Mat Goggin, Victorians Ben Eccles and Peter Wilson, New South Welshman Daniel Gale, 17-year-old Pymble amateur Jake Riley and Queenslanders Kade McBride and Blake Proverbs.

Order of Merit leader David Micheluzzi is well-placed in the group on the next line at 4-under after he rolled in five birdies in his opening 67. No. 2-ranked Brendan Jones opening with a 3-under 68 to also put himself in the mix.


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