Hayden Hopewell was nervous when his tee time arrived at The Australian today and you could hardly blame him.
His 18th birthday was just last Tuesday and he’d never played at this level before. But in winning the qualifying event at Glenmore Heritage Valley on Monday, he earned a start in the field for the most storied professional event this country has.
He was not about to let the opportunity slip. Hopewell, from Perth, stood on the 10th tee at one of this country’s best-known venues and smacked a drive down the middle. He made four birdies—at the 14th, the 18th, the second and the fourth.
Reaching his last hole, the ninth on the course, he was bogey-free but a heeled drive into the rough down the right left him with little chance, and he closed with a bogey for a 68, three-under par. It put him on the leaderboard – at least momentarily – in his debut Open.
“If I had that score standing on the first tee I’d take it 100 percent,’’ he said later. “I’m not gonna lie. I was nervous, the first tee shot. This is my first time. I love it. Love the course, love the feel and loved the adrenaline rush after the first tee shot.”
Hopewell is already highly-regarded in the amateur circles, having won a WA junior, a Jack Newton Invitational and being runner-up in the WA Open and the Tasmanian Open recently.
With his scratch-marker father Hudson on the bag, he breezed through his media commitments.
“It was tracking good but I missed a few putts coming home, at 14, 15 and 16 that were very gettable,’’ he said. “I was happy with how I struck it and controlled my flight and hopefully the putter rolls better tomorrow.”
Hopewell has put himself in position to play four days of golf but he was not counting on it, not yet. “ It was shot-by-shot,” he said. “It’d be great to make the cut but I’ve got to give it the best I can over every shot and see how it falls.”