Another big tournament, another fresh-faced new name atop the leaderboard.
Little-known Cameron John fired a three-under-par 69 to lead the Riversdale Cup late in the first round of the time-honoured event in suburban Melbourne.
John, still 15 and about to play his first year of pennant for Commonwealth, holds a one-shot lead over four players including Lucas Herbert on a packed leaderboard, with several of the week’s pre-tournament fancies within range.
In the concurrent women’s Cup, Singaporean Jen Goh, Princess Superal, of the Philippines, and rapidly emerging Victorian talent Julienne Soo share a three-shot lead after each carded a one-over-par 74.
John, a Year 11 student at Rowville Secondary College, peppered the pins throughout his round in testing earlier conditions that made his score even more impressive.
“I was all over it with the ball-striking and balls around the pin, but just struggled with the putter a bit,” said John, who attributed his rise to the work he and coach Tim Wendell had been pouring in during the past year.
“I hit a good shot into the (par-four) eighth that lipped out from 110m out and rolled to four feet, but I missed that putt and that pretty much was how I played.”
John, already off a GA handicap of +3.2, had two practice rounds earlier this week, but before then had only the picturesque course once aged seven.
“This is the first year I’ve been able to play (the Riversdale Cup) because of my handicap.
“I’ve liked watching it and come down a couple of times to watch it, but I’m just trying to figure out my way of playing.
“You always come into the week thinking about winning, but I know it’s a pretty good field this week and I just want to post a good result.”
Golf Australia national squad member Herbert was alongside Sydneysider Travis Smyth and the twin Grange Golf Club attack of Jack Williams and Matthew Lisk on 70.
Herbert, also out in the trying early conditions, was two over early, but made a string of birdies midway through his round to bounce back.
Other big names well placed include Ben Eccles and Taylor McDonald (both 71), Melbourne’s Brett Coletta (72), while West Australians Curtis Luck and GA national squad member Jarryd Felton each fired 73.
Queensland’s Cory Crawford shot a 74, one better than national squad teammate Ryan Ruffels, while national amateur champion Cameron Davis battled the early cold to shoot a 76.