As the first groups went off this morning at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links for the first round of the 2014 Oates Vic Open, the wind started blowing and didn’t stop. The links courses in Scotland are miles away from the Barwon Heads layout but this morning Thirteenth Beach took on all of the traits that make links golf the stern test that it is. When the wind died down the clouds opened up and the rain fell, and then the wind started up again. In these relentless conditions the pros from the PGA Tour of Australasia battled to keep their scores around even par.
Scott Strange who played the Beach course this morning signed his card, just after noon, on one-over for the day.
Strange had the following to say about the conditions on the Beach course.
“Getting to the pins on the back 9 was ridiculous. I had to get it on the green and hope to two putt. Today’s round was about playing as positively negative as you could.”
1116 SEN Radio’s afternoon presenter, Mark Allen defied many of his drive time critics as he started on fire birdying 2, 7 and 9 to take sole lead of the men’s Oates Vic Open at three under par, in the early hours of the tournament. However, the conditions showed no mercy. Allen came home with bogeys on 13, 17 and 18 and finished at even par tied for fifteenth.
One of the first players to brave the Creek course this morning and come out on top was David Bransdon. The Victorian was a co-leader from the morning into the afternoon with a solid round of two-under par.
Bransdon spoke about his performance and how relieved he was to come off the round in one piece.
“I played very nicely, I’m just glad it’s done. It was brutal out there. No let up. The wind was blowing really hard.”
“I did well. I only made two bogeys. I had four birdies and pretty much kept it in play, that’s half the battle. Avoid the fairway bunkers, keep it in play and then just hopefully hit it on the green.”
Bransdon sits tied for second at the end of play today, with fellow Victorian’s Andrew Kelly, Terry Pilkadaris and Lee Deagan.
Kelly, who teed it up off the Beach course today, was simply relieved to be in the clubhouse having not been broken down by the grind that was 18 holes.
“The wind didn’t stop blowing, it was just a real grind and you had to stay focused. It was pretty brutal, I’m glad to have finished where I did.”
It is not often that tour professionals are brought to their knees so early on in a tournament and Terry Pilkadaris certainly admitted that this was the reality on the day.
“We had a squall go through on the 18th and I hit my driver 200 metres,” he laughed.
“You just have to hang onto your hat literally!”
Victorian, Jack Wilson began to turn some heads on the Beach course in the afternoon, deftly trying to defy the odds as the wind started taking tee shots prisoner and steering putts off line. With an even front nine the young Aussie started the back nine with a vengeance making birdie on 11 and 13. His birdie putt on 13 was a forty footer with three feet of break. The putt was never in doubt and at this point it looked as if Wilson would be the only one who had an answer to the questions that the conditions were asking. However, Wilson, who was tied for the lead at two under after the birdie on 13, would enter champions corner and come out with 3 bogeys in his last 5 holes to finish at one over on the day.
It wasn’t a Victorian who would tame the course at the end of round 1. It was Aaron Townsend from Newcastle, New South Wales, who would find himself atop the leaderboard having put together the bravest performance in the late afternoon. Townsend, who finished 6th in the Queensland PGA Championship last week, started with a birdie on the par 4, 10, his first hole, but made the turn at even par. It was his back nine where he rallied to get on the happy side of par. He played a bogey free back nine with birdies on 1, 5 and 7 and from there no one would catch him. He is the sole leader of the Victorian Open after day 1.
Townsend had the following to say after he signed his card and took a deep breath.
“That’s one of the windiest days I can remember. Like having to club myself 3 and 4 clubs with the wind is not something you do everyday. It was fun but I am glad that it’s over.”
“I was happy with the way I played and I got a couple of good breaks which is what you need on days like this, but in general I hit the ball exactly where I had to.”
“I saw some of the scores this morning and I knew they would be struggling a little bit. I knew when I checked the wind speed that some of the balls would be moving around.”
“I got a great short birdie putt on 10 and bogeyed 12 which was the first time we went back into the wind. I totally miss clubbed and got punished. Then I had a lot of pars in a row until I birdied 15 and then it was a little silly on 17 I hit a great shot and 3 putted, I birdied one and then I birdied the par 5 out the back.
“I had two great shots there. It was nice to get a par 5 down wind and I was on in two. I birdied the little par 3, 7. I hit a great shot in and the putt looked like it was left to right but the wind pushed it right to left. The putt happened to trickle in and it was nice to make that one,” said Townsend.
ROUND 2 DRAW
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By: Michael Speakman (Golf Victoria Media)