12 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |
Vic Open wrap: Green dominates, Lyras clings to advantage at 13th Beach
by Martin Blake
Superstar Hannah Green has a stranglehold on the Vic Open while New South Welshman John Lyras will sleep on the lead in the men’s tournament for a third consecutive night.
Green, the world No. 30 and one of only four Australian women to win a major championship in golf, is resuming tournament golf after a three-month break, but she was electrifying as she first reeled in second-round leader Whitney Hillier today, then surged away to a five-shot lead through three rounds.
This week she said that she wanted to start her year with a win, and the Olympian is in perfect position to do it tomorrow at 13th Beach Golf Links from her lofty spot at 12 under par.
Green carded a third-round 68 with five birdies and leads comfortably from Hillier and Queenslander Karis Davidson. She had just one bogey – at the par-four 16th where her approach sailed long and she failed to get up-and-down from the rough – which is the only blemish on her card after 51 holes without faltering, a stretch that she could not remember ever matching. It says a lot about the quality of her ball-striking as she prepares for another year in the United States on the LPGA Tour.
The 25-year-old is the best player in the field and she has justified the fact that her photograph is plastered on the advertising billboards along the driveway into the golf course. It was a windy day at Barwon Heads, the toughest of the three so far, and Hillier, Green’s former WA state teammate, struggled to a third-round 75, three over par. The lead changed at the par-four fifth when Hillier carded bogey to Green’s birdie, and Green pulled away.
“I think it’s probably a bit easier for the chasing pack,” said Green after her round. “They can post a number and hope that I crumble, I guess. That’s probably what everyone thinks but I’ve never really been in this position to have such a big lead, and I’m excited for it.”
In the men’s event, Lyras led by three shots at the start of the third round but immediately bogeyed the par-four first after driving into a fairway trap. But he was not about to yield, and at the par-five second, he hit two sweet shots and an eight-metre eagle putt dropped into the cup. It encapsulated a day when he made ground, then gave it back, such as at the par-four fifth where he took double bogey.
But the 25-year-old from St Michael’s Golf Club rolled in three birdie putts on the 10th, 11th and 15th to reassert his authority, ultimately posting a 70 to sit at 16 under par overall, a shot ahead, when he saved par at the 18th despite hooking his drive into a hazard down the left.
He has a chance to go wire-to-wire tomorrow, although there are eight players within four shots at the top of the men’s leaderboard.
“Simply put, I want to play the best round of golf that I can,” he said. “I don’t like playing bad rounds of golf, it doesn’t sit well with me. So tomorrow’s no different. Yes there’s a bit more pressure on me, from external pressures. But to me, I want to play the best I can, try to shoot a low one, put some good numbers on the board, more for myself than anything. If I can put a good round together tomorrow, I’ll be happy.”
Dimi Papadatos played alongside him in the final group and had a share of the lead at one point on his way to an excellent 68. He made a great up-and-down to save par at the last, and remains the nearest challenger at 15 under.
Kiwi Ben Campbell (66 today), Queenslander Aaron Pike and Victorians Zach Murray and Matthew Griffin are at 14 under and still in the mix.
Despite the tougher conditions, Western Australian pro Braden Becker rattled around in a course record 62 but did most of his work before the breeze sprung up.
In the Victorian Inclusive Championships which began today, Sydney’s Steve Prior shot a 74 to lead by three shots.
In the Australian Wheelchair Championship, Wollongong’s Nick Taylor had 35 stableford points to lead, despite having four double bogeys in his 87.
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