06 Apr 2022 | Professional golf |

Windred's wonder shot puts him in charge

by PGA of Australia

Blake Windred National image
Blake Windred is chasing another win at The National this week. Photo: Getty

By Tony Webeck

A rare ace at the par-4 12th has helped to propel Newcastle’s Blake Windred to a one-shot lead after the second round of The National PGA Classic at The National Golf Club.

The benign conditions that greeted players on day one were nowhere to be seen on Wednesday as the heavy gusts for which the Mornington Peninsula is famous for kept scoring in check at the Gunnamatta Course.

Overnight leader Derek Ackerman added a round of three-under 69 to his day one score of 65 to post 10-under as the afternoon groups teed off, Windred’s unlikely hole-in-one the highlight in a round of 67 to edge one clear of Ackerman through 36 holes.

DJ Loypur (67), Kade McBride (67) and amateur Harrison Crowe are all two shots back of Windred in a share of third with Aaron Wilkin (68), Jed Morgan (70) and Kyle Michel (70) tied for sixth at eight-under.

Winner of the Victorian PGA Championship at Moonah Links in December, Windred was four-under on his round and one behind Ackerman when he hit driver off the 369-metre par-4 12th tee.

The blind tee shot meant that the 24-year-old was oblivious to his remarkable feat until informed by ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia rules official Heath McLeod as he approached the green.

“I thought he was joking and then I thought, Why would he be joking about that?” Windred said of only his second hole-in-one in competition.

“It was a pretty incredible moment. It was weird though. It’s the best feeling ever but because I didn’t see it go in my heart wasn’t racing as much which was good. I felt real calm and straight onto the next hole and made an incredible birdie.

“That was nearly as impressive to me to make that birdie on the next hole, straight into the teeth (of the wind).”

After holing his driver at 12 Windred hit driver off the tee and then off the deck from the 13th fairway to leave himself 65 metres to the green, that up-and-down for birdie pushing him four shots clear of the field at 14-under.

Three consecutive bogeys from the 15th hole brought him back to the field late in his round but he remains upbeat about how he is placed at the halfway mark.

“It stings a little bit more because I didn’t miss a shot and made three bogeys,” said Windred, the gusts of more than 40km/h having an influence on even short putts on the exposed greens.

“It’s a positive in a way because I made three bogeys and did not miss a shot. All of the bogeys I just had these par putts that the wind just smashed.

“I know what I’m capable of out there and this course suits me.

“I love being in these positions and I love being out here in contention. I feel like that’s where I do my best work.”

Teeing off in the morning groups, Ackerman didn’t feel the full force of the wind until six holes into his round, an eagle at the par-5 first – his 10th hole – the cornerstone of a round that keeps him in contention for a maiden victory.

“The wind definitely made some holes a lot more difficult than what they were yesterday,” said Ackerman, who hit driver, gap wedge from 130 yards to set up an eagle putt of just three feet at the first.

“Putting was probably the hardest adjustment to make because the wind has a huge factor on the speed and break on the greens out here.

“I’ll definitely take the number I shot considering I didn’t play nearly as good as I did yesterday.

“Yesterday I felt like I left some out there and today I felt like I squeezed close to as good a round as I could have considering the conditions and how I was playing in a sense.”

Only a late double bogey stopped Gippsland Super 6 champion Jack Thompson from posting the round of the day, his five-under 67 the equal best alongside Windred, Loypur, McBride and Ryley Martin.

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