It doesn’t matter how many birdies you make, there’ll always be a critic.
It’s just that Richard Green probably wouldn’t expect a light-hearted ribbing from fiancee Marianne Skarpnord after a course-record 66 left him joint leader of the Victorian Open today.
Green, who shares the early lead with Bendigo’s Kris Mueck and Brisbane’s Daniel Nisbet at six under after each took two shots off the previous best on the Creek Course, had his round to eight under with two to play.
But after hitting his only errant drive of the day, Green’s attempt to “catch up” from long range ended in him drowning his approach to the eighth hole, his 17th.
Green nearly scrambled a bogey, but his putt hooked out and left him with one blemish on an otherwise stellar card.
“Yeah, it was really the only blip of the day. It’s rare to get through a round of golf without something happening and I nearly got away with a bogey, but the putt just eased out a little and it was a bit unfortunate,” the 2004 Australian Masters champ said.
“It’s quality stuff. I think the last three weeks on the European Tour —in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai – the competition level is immense and your game adapts to a certain level and I feel I’ve gotten myself into pretty good form over there, I’ve come back home and it’s still there, which is good.”
Which all makes perfect sense. Except to Skarpnord.
The Norwegian champ, herself just one off the concurrent women’s tournament lead after a fine opening three-under-par 70 on the Creek Course, was quick to point out that Green had let slip an opportunity.
“He’s going good, isn’t he? But seriously, who the hell double-bogeys eight when you’re eight under par?” she tried to say seriously before breaking into laughter.
Skarpnord shared second with American Beth Allen and South Australian Steph Na, each of whom played the Creek Course.
The Ladies European Tour star and Green have just bought a house adjoining 13th Beach and couldn’t be happier despite having more jetlag than furniture in their new abode.
And it shows with both playing exemplary golf, despite it being Skarpnord’s first competitive round since she broke her wrist in November.
“There’s so many nice people here. I’ve never been to a place where we’ve been so welcomed by the people. It’s ridiculous, it’s so good,” she beamed.
“The wrist is perfect now. When I first started to hit balls it hurt, but now it’s fine.
“I started this tournament really just to see where I’m at, but the game feels good and mental side better than it has for a long time – I’m quite happy with it all.”
Green, who had an albatross in his pro-am round on Wednesday, said he just hoped to ride the wave of good karma.
“When things start going right you’ve just gotta roll with it. I have had weeks like that in the past and I’ve ended up doing really well in tournaments and you’re having good things happen – holing putts from miles out or chipping in and you have a great week,” he said.
“To do that yesterday was amazing. So yeah, I’ll just try to keep it all rolling along.”
It’s far from the first course record on Green’s resume, his most memorable a ripping 64 en route to finishing tied fourth at Carnoustie in the Open Championship in 2007.
He also claimed a “long ago” 64 at Huntingdale and a 62 in Cologne last June as other club marks he’s held.
First-round professional Todd Sinnott was among a big bunch just behind the leaders with the Melburnian firing an impressive 68 on the Creek Course.
His playing partners also impressed with defending champion Matt Griffin signing for a 69 and Golf Australia national squad star Ryan Ruffels a 70.
Fellow Victorian Lucas Herbert shot a 69 in Green’s group, saying it had been magnificent to have a “front-row ticket” to watch the veteran’s round.
FIRST ROUND OATES VICTORIAN OPEN LEADERBOARDS
-6 Richard Green (Vic)
Daniel Nisbet (Qld)
Kris Mueck (Vic)
-5 Jared Pender (NZ)
-4 Todd Sinnott (Vic)
Gareth Paddison (NZ)
Lincoln Tighe (NSW)
Adam Bland (SA)
-4 Sally Watson (SCO)
-3 Stephanie Na (SA)
Beth Allen (USA)
Marianne Skarpnord (NOR)
-2 Liz Elmassian (NSW, am)
Hannah Green (WA, am)
Nina Holleder (GER)