Date: February 07, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Flic of the switch to go low


England’s Felicity Johnson makes no secret of her love for Australia.

She’s also a proud member of the Ladies European Tour.

If her opening round of the ISPS Handa Vic Open today is any guide, she might soon find herself in North America, too.

The joyful Johnson, twice an Australian PGA pro-am winner in regional Victoria in recent weeks, is not one to brag, nor make light of her opponents’ achievements.

So you know she must have had the ball on a string to garner this assessment of her bogey-free course-record 64 on the Creek Course.

“Anytime you shoot eight under, it's pretty good. To do it bogey free is a bonus,” Johnson said.

“I'm going to sound a bit cocky, but it was really easy.

“I hit 17 greens in regulation, birdied three of the par-5s, so there's kind of a couple of almost gimme birdies.

“And for me if I roll the ball on the greens well, I'll shoot a good score and that's what I did today.”

If only golf was that simple for mere mortals.

But Johnson, as practical as she is upbeat, was quick to also point out that her history around 13th Beach isn’t glorious.

“To be honest, I've played pretty rubbish on both of (the courses here) previously, so it's a shock to shoot eight under,” said the woman known to all as `Flic’.

“The Creek was playing pretty scorable today. The winds didn't really pick up. After a bit of rain overnight, the greens were holding, they were running pretty good.

“So hopefully the Beach will treat me kindly tomorrow.”

Her score late in the day eclipsed long-time leader Su Oh, while Canadian Anne-Catherine Tanguay and American Kim Kaufman later joined the Melburnian at six under par.

Oh was the instigator of the low scores with a spectacular hole-in-one with a six-iron from 149m on the Creek Course 15th hole, the sixth of her round.

Of the pre-tournament favourites, Georgia Hall finished at three under, while Minjee Lee was at one under, both on the Creek Course.

On the Beach Course, 2016 Women’s Australian Open winner Haru Nomura charged late to close at five under, while a big bunch at four under includes rising Australian pro Karis Davidson and her amateur compatriot Steph Kyriacou.

Similar to the men, an extraordinary 76 women finished at one under or better with Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer and Charley Hull among several big names at even par.