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13th Beach Golf Links, VIC

1-4 February, 2024

11 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |

#VicOpen men's: Lyras learns to love the lead

by Martin Blake

John Lyras r2 Vic Open image
John Lyras on his way to a 66 at 13th Beach today.

John Lyras has picked a good week to find his best. The man from St Michael’s Golf Club in southern Sydney leads the men’s Vic Open for the second night in row after he added a 66 today to his opening 64.

Lyras, 25, is chasing his first professional win this week but he is making a nice fist of it so far.

Today he began with a two-shot lead and immediately birdied his first and second holes despite a fluky south-easterly breeze whipping across 13th Beach Golf Links. His lead grew to four shots for a time and ultimately finished at three; his exclamation mark came at the par-four ninth hole, his final hole of the day, when he putted from off the fringe of the green straight into the cup from monster range.

“I had a good line on it,” he said later. “It was nice to be able to raise the putter in front of the crowd.”

Lyras is at an imposing 14 under through 36 holes and his nearest challenger is another New South Welshman, Dimi Papadatos, who carded a 68 today. Queenslander Jake McLeod (67) and Victorian Cameron John (68) are outright third, four shots from the lead at 10 under.

Queenslander Aaron Pike (68), Victorians Matthew Griffin (67), Josh Younger (65) and Zach Murray (69) are next, all five shots from the lead.

Lyras, the Sydneysider who came to golf later because of an attachment to cricket as a left-hand opening batsman, is embracing the attention of being the leader.

“It’s not the first time I’ve done it but this feels very different,” he said. “People out here, people following you everywhere, not Covid-effected per se. But this is why we play golf. This is where you want to be.

“You can’t get tired of it, if you love the game this much. I just want to keep doing it.”

European-based Papadatos had an eagle at the short par-four first hole on the Creek course, turned in 31 and could have gone lower than his 68 today.

Meanwhile John, 22, who has stripped 25 kilograms from his frame, is benefiting from a better attitude to the game after Covid made him technically unemployed for much of 2020. He spent the time working as a carpenter among other vocations and decided ultimately, that golf was a good choice.

“It’s something I’ve been working on, just trying to be happy,” he said. “It seems silly, but I think some people find it easier than others and I think I’m just working on that, and it seems to be going my way at the moment.”

As for Lyras, he can’t recall playing two better rounds consecutively. “In terms of pure golf, this is the best I’ve probably played in two rounds of golf.”

It’s all there in front of him now. But on Thursday night after he went home to his accommodation with his father and caddie, they went and jumped in the ocean near Barwon Heads, even stopping in to check out the “incredible” local golf club with its superb clubhouse. He says that he knows himself better now, and he has learned to accept who he is.

“I can still be myself,” he said. “I’m proud of who I am and how I look to other people. That’s probably the biggest thing, being comfortable in your own skin and being able to put yourself out there in that frame of mind and not caring what people think. That’s definitely been the biggest thing that’s helped me mentally and just appreciating who I am. Loving yourself, basically, but trying to do it in the humblest possible way."

The players move to the Beach course for the final two rounds beginning tomorrow.


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