Date: November 25, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Aussies watch world breeze past

On any given day, a 68 would do just fine, thanks.

But when you’re playing fourball, you start five shots adrift and a host of world-class teams rip the course apart, it suddenly doesn’t sound as attractive.

So when Marc Leishman and Adam Scott fronted the media to enquire after a World Cup of Golf round that contained six birdies, but at least as many blown chances and two bogeys to boot, the response was polite but tepid.

“We could have been happier, I’m sure,” replied Leishman, whose closing birdie left Australia 10 shots adrift of a stupendous Denmark.

“I certainly didn’t play the way I would have liked, but it’s golf and it can do that to you.

“We’re still staying positive, hoping we’ve saved all our good stuff for the weekend.”

The big problem in that for the Australian combination is that there are 16 teams between them at two under and the scintillating Danes at 12 under after they shot a scarcely believable 60 in gusting winds at Kingston Heath.

The combination of Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen poured in two eagles and eight birdies to leap from T7 at the start of the day to a three-shot halfway lead over bolter China with Spain third a shot further back and .

Compounding the Aussies’ issues is that while Denmark was top shelf, there was a pair of 64s by New Zealand and Netherlands playing together, four 65s by Japan, China, Taiwan and Scotland and no fewer than seven 66s.

In short, enough great scores to keep Australia effectively in neutral, if not reverse.

There’s little doubt Melbourne’s wet spring has taken the sting out of the Heath, renowned by all those who grew up playing it as requiring links-style strokeplay for bouncy approach shots.

But in a haze of misjudgements, cold putters and tough breaks, Leishman and Scott paid a price for playing what they’d known previously, not what they now confronted.

“You were hoping to skip it back there like you normally would, but it didn’t really happen, so you were left a long way short,” Scott said.

“You should be able to adjust pretty well, but sometimes it’s hard to get it out of your mind.

“You’re trying to play the right shot, you think, and it’s not (the right one) because of the conditions.

“So maybe that works against us a little bit.”

Leishman, reluctantly almost, agreed.

“We should be able to adjust, it’s just so hard when you’re used to landing it short and it’s spinning backwards,” he said.

“I guess it’s a little frustrating in that respect, but we’re professional golfers, and we need to adjust to that sort of thing.

“We’ve had a few days on the course now and it’s been soft every day, so hopefully we can get that under control … adjust the bounces and have a good, really low couple of rounds.”

The Aussies had battled for momentum for much of the first 25 holes of the World Cup, but seemed to have seized it with a brilliant up-and-down birdie by Leishman on the 8th followed by a monster 25m putt from off the green by Scott on the 9th.

But when two birdie tries hooked out hard on the 11th, the Australian surge proved short-lived.

“Yeah, it’s a little frustrating,” Leishman said.

“They probably both looked like they were going in … but again, that’s golf.

“You can’t let that get to you as hard as it is.”

“We just need to hit it a little closer and to get it close, we’ve got to judge the bounces better.”