10 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |
#VicOpen men's: Lyras bursts to the top
by Martin Blake
Sydney pro John Lyras is the first-round leader at the men’s Vic Open after a stunning opening-round 64 on the Creek Course at 13th Beach today.
The 25-year-old who plays out of St Michaels Golf Club had an eagle at the par-five second hole to go with seven birdies and a bogey on the first day, despite playing his round in the afternoon when the winds were sterner.
He has a one-shot buffer over another Sydneysider, Dimi Papadatos, who birdied the last in the late-afternoon to shoot a 65.
Papadatos is a shot clear of a cluster of players – Victorians Cameron John, Zach Murray, Andrew Martin and James Marchesani who all opened with 66.
Lyras rode the wave of his hot driver on the day and attacked the par-fives, where he picked up five shots.
“It was windy out there today. Every shot was its own shot and its own beast,” he said. “So it was nice to get one away early in this tournament.”
A late-starter in the professional game, he played cricket up to second grade level with the University of New South Wales until he completed high school before switching codes.
“Golf was the first love but cricket took over,” he said. “I kind of said after high school ‘I’m going to crack into golf and give it a shake, and do what I’ve really dreamt of doing when I was growing up, before I started playing cricket, at three, four, five, six.”
Lyras rated his round highly. “It’s definitely one of my best. I think I had my best control of my driver probably I’ve ever had, and you had to do it out there, you’re hitting driver everywhere.”
Border product Murray, 25, had two eagles in his opening 66 on the Creek course to join the 31-year-old Marchesani on top of the leaderboard at six under until Lyras’ came with his late run.
Twice a winner on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, Murray would be a feel-good victor on the Bellarine Peninsula, after several years battling a debilitating nervous condition that threatened his career.
The panic attacks happened both at home and on the course and for a time in 2020, he could not play at all. But with help from a psychologist in Melbourne, the Albury-Wodonga professional has found a way to move forward, and he finds himself playing well. Today he eagled the par-five seventh and the 17th, finished eagle-par-birdie to shoot six under par.
Ironically, he had started poorly, being one over par through four holes.
“I had to reset a bit, which I was able to do nicely,” he said.
“I must say today I didn’t feel like I had full control over my ball. I hit a couple of loose shots and got away with it, but I was able to steady the ship and hit quality shots coming in, so it was nice.”
Veteran Richard Green, who lives on the course, also is in the mix at five under par. Green recently turned 50 and is headed for the European seniors tour later this year, was in the final group at Rosebud last weekend and his form remained hot. The left-hander, who won this tournament in 2015, finished with two birdies and again dismissed the notion that he is a semi-retired golfer.
“That spark and that interest in performing again is certainly back,” he said.
Marquee player and 2006 US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy opened with a one-under par 71, as did Australian PGA champion Jed Morgan, who would have gone lower other than for a triple bogey seven at the par-four 16th where his hooked drive required a penalty drop.
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