Matthew Giles and Gareth Paddison share the lead after the opening round of the Victorian PGA Championship at Huntingdale Golf Club.
Giles played a bogey-free round to finish on 7-under 65 while Paddison made up for his single bogey on the 1st with an eagle on the 7th to end the first tournament round of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season with a share of the lead.
“I played very solid today, hit the ball well and hit a few long putts which is obviously always a bonus,” Giles said.
“I got off to a really good start, I birdied the first two holes and I just played really solid all day, I only missed one green in regulation and made three putts over 20 feet. I had nice par save on 17 to keep the blemishes off the card.”
Huntingdale hasn’t always been kind to Giles and having missed the cut at this venue last year, he came with a new plan for the 2017 edition.
“I’ve never really played well here previously but I’ve got a bit of a plan for this course this time around,” added Giles.
“I only hit driver two or three times today and I’m playing it pretty conservatively off the tee.
“I’m backing my iron game and my short game to provide some opportunities, I’ll be hitting a lot of two irons off the tee to hopefully keep it in play and go from there.”
New Zealander Paddison credited his lead to his smart play on the par-5 holes which took the pressure off the rest of his game.
“I hit a lot of birdies and a lot of one-putts which was quite nice and I played the par-5’s really well,” Paddison said.
“My second shots in to the par-5’s were massive for me. It makes it a damn sight easier to play golf when you’re playing the par-5’s well around here.”
The leading score was a welcome surprise for Paddison who admittedly has never started so well in a tournament.
“It was a bit unexpected to go that low on a Championship course like this but I’ve played a lot at Huntingdale and it was nice to hit some good shots and capitalise on them.
“It’s probably the lowest opening round I’ve shot in god knows how long, so it was nice to get the first tournament underway and play some nice golf.”
Aron Price and Josh Younger set the pace early and were leading after the morning session, however find themselves one shot a drift at the end of the first round.
Victorian Younger used his experience playing at Huntingdale to his advantage to shoot a 6-under 66 that included seven birdies and only the one bogey on the 18th.
“It was a good round, I got off to a good start and made a couple of birdies late around the back-9, unfortunately I bogeyed the last but I’ll take that,” Younger said.
“I putted pretty well and I only made the one bogey on the last hole, I played the par-5’s really well and it was just a good solid round.
Younger said his approach this time around has been the biggest change he’s made in preparation for the championship.
“I’ve played here quite a bit but never very well, so I’ve a changed a few things heading in to this week and so far it’s worked, hopefully it continues.
“You’ve just got to be in the fairway around here, it’s a pretty tight course.
“I managed to do that for most of today and got on to a few greens then holed a few putts so it was good.”
Price who made a shaky start, putted his way to match Younger at 6-under 66.
“I holed a good putt on the 5th and 6th and then I hit another three-putt. I’ve changed my putting routine and I’ve been putting well for the first time in a long time,” Price said.
“So even though I did have a few three-putts, I was still alright because I actually hit good putts so I wasn’t too frustrated.
“My putting was definitely the highlight of my game today I didn’t hit that many too close, I holed probably four putts outside of 15 feet so that’s rare for me!”
Price said he came in to the tournament with low expectations on his performance and he says the relaxed approach was a big reason he currently shares the lead.
“I’m trying to take a different approach, I’m always going to try and hit the best shot I can but I’m just trying to be more relaxed in between shots.
“I only got here at lunch time yesterday and played nine holes so I didn’t have very high expectations which typically works out better for me.”
Damien Jordan and Tom Power Horan make up a four-way-tie in third with Younger and Price.