ling Sydney professional Ben Clementson defied the odds to grab an early opening round lead after firing a four-under 66 at The Brisbane Golf Club.
Clementson, who has earned just $11,265 prizemoney this year, recovered from a disasterous start where he bogeyed three of his opening four holes.
“I actually hit the ball really badly for the score I shot,’’ he said.
“After the first three or four holes I thought it was going to be terrible, but I rolled in a long downhill putt for birdie on the fifth that got me going.’’
Clementson, 25, fought back to be even with the card on the front nine and then notched four birdies coming home.
He took 28 putts on the tricky greens which caused the downfall of many players. Clementson also chipped-in on the par-3, 13th, after coming up short of the green.
“It hasn’t been a great year for me and to get a score like that on the board is something,’’ he said.
“Tomorrow I will go out and try not to hit it as bad as I did today … but I’d like to hole as many putts.’’
Clementson, who was forced to return to PGA qualifying school this year to save his card, said he did not have any significant amateur career.
“As a young bloke I played cricket and then took up golf at St Michael’s in Sydney. I decided to have a shot at the PGA Q-school in 2013 and managed to get through.’’
Players in the morning field enjoyed good conditions but many floundered on the tricky greens and dropped shots.
Queenslanders Aaron Pike and Michael Wright, Kiwi Mark Brown, Mitchell Brown (NSW), Adam Stephens (NSW) and Brad Moules (SA) were a shot behind Clementson with 68s.
“The greens are difficult, not what we are normally used to in Queensland,’’ said Pike.
They are not receptive and you can’t go for the pin on a lot of holes, even with a sand-wedge in your hand.
“I don’t think they will get any easier, especially if the wind gets up.’’
Perennial contender Matt Millar (ACT) finished with an even-par 70 with Queenslander Matt Guyatt a 71.
Defending champion David Bransdon was very disappointed with his opening 74 while Victorian Anthony Houston, coming off his third place at the Fiji International, carded 73.
Jake Higginbottom (NSW) and Ashley Hall (Vic) also had tough days, settling for rounds of 76.
Hall’s closing hole was the par-4, ninth, where he signed for a quadruple-bogey after chipping to within three metres of the pin and taking five putts.