11 Mar 2021 | Isuzu Queensland Open |

Five-birdie streak for golf's man of the moment

by Contributor

RD1 LEADERBOARD

- By Jim Tucker

Australian golf’s man-of-the-moment Andrew Martin produced a five-birdie streak at the Isuzu Queensland Open as his encore to last Sunday’s four eagles.

It was a remarkable show of focus from the Bendigo pro who would have been excused if he had a letdown round after waiting so long for his breakthrough tournament success.

Instead, he carried the stellar form of his closing 61 to win The Players Series Sydney into a fine five-under-par 67 for the joint lead at Pelican Waters Golf Club.

Queensland veteran Michael Wright, Newcastle’s Blake Windred, 2015 Queensland Open champion David Bransdon and young Pelican Waters amateur Justin Morley share the front-running on five-under with him.

Caloundra amateur Chris Crabtree had a hot round going when five-under after eight holes but pulling his tee shot into trees on his 16th hole for double bogey and a triple bogey from the trees on the last scuttled things.

Half the field failed to finish their rounds because of a near-three hour play suspension on Thursday morning when a Queensland downpour saturated the course outside Caloundra.

Morley will be one out early from 7am (AEST) on Friday to finish the final two holes of his opening round. He grabbed five birdies in 16 holes before the horn blew to bring in the wet brigade for the day.

Martin had to two safe pars behind him when rain forced the morning field off the course and he trundled to eight straight before his round exploded.

He had a run of six birdies in eight holes and five in a row. There were no chip-ins this time just more solid ball-striking and putting.

“I was a bit sluggish after the rain delay but five in a row does help,” the understated Martin said.

He drained a superb 12m left-to-right putt that accounted for a fair bit of grain on the par three fifth, his 14th hole of the day.

Keeping his focus was easier than you’d expect.

“We have NSW Open next week and a fair bit of time off after that so it’s knuckle down time when I’m playing good golf. I can enjoy things afterwards,” Martin said.

Bransdon joked that he’s glad he can still play golf because he has no future as a home-school teacher for his youngest children James, 8, and Olivia, 11.

“I did two lots of home-schooling for 10 weeks during the Victorian lockdown (for COVID) last year and I’m definitely better at golf,” he said.

Bransdon clearly enjoys the positional golf and the strong iron play that Greg Norman-designed courses demand. He won this event at Norman’s Brookwater Golf and Country Club in 2015 and set the Pelican Waters course record of 63 in last year’s opening round.

“I only took out driver four times. It’s a course that demands good iron play and that plays to my strength,” Bransdon said.

Windred, 23, made his fifth and final birdie with a fine up-and-down from the compact wet sand in the bunker on the par five 17th.

He hit a six iron to just over a metre on the fifth with “some of the heaviest rain I’ve played in coming down and a wet glove.”

He had nearly three hours to dwell on that putt for his first birdie because he was called off course at that point.

“I actually didn’t think about the putt so I just went out and...yeah, sunk it,” Windred said.

“It can be a dark place mentally on rainy days like this when you don’t know what sort of play is going to be possible.

“An egg and bacon McMuffin and a latte definitely helped during the rain break and some joking with the other guys. It felt like I was starting my round again.”

Defending champion Anthony Quayle (68) had a composed round, Jake McLeod (70) felt his round was ragged and Dalby leftie Lawry Flynn (68) was best of the strong amateur contingent.

Derek Ackerman, the sole American in the field, is four-under with one hole still to complete. He was upbeat but did give a sense of the difficulty with the ball flying two clubs less in heavy rain, cutting through the drizzle without issue and flying or not from the wet rough.

Steph Kyriacou, who started birdie-birdie, and young amateur Grace Kim both shot two-over 74 on a day when the sodden course played at its longest off the back tees.

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