It wasn’t the historic performance their fellow Australian Blake Windred pieced together, but Nathan Barbieri and Jack Thompson are deservedly proud of their first outings at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
Playing as a part of Team Australia for the first time, Windred’s NSW teammate took the green and gold reins early, carding a 3-under 69 to be the leading Australian in the morning wave.
After beginning on the 10th, Barbieri exploded out of the blocks on Thursday morning to be 3-under through his first four holes.
A couple of dropped shots slowed the 22-year-old’s momentum but he bounced back strongly, carding back-to-back birdies just after making the turn, before birdieing his final two holes of the day.
By the close of play the Sydneysider was six shots back of outright leader Windred, but he could hardly have asked for a better start in his AAC debut.
“There was nerves, but it was good nerves,” Barbieri said.
“It made me focus more on the shots. It was an awesome feeling out there and I can’t wait to get back out.”
“It’s a massive event and you just want to play well. I was so focussed all day so I’m really proud of myself.”
South Australian Thompson only had himself to blame for a bogey on his second hole of the day, the par-4 11th, when he called a penalty on himself for marking his ball off the green.
The Grange member mistakenly picked up his ball when it was sitting on the fringe incurring a one-shot penalty and things got worse soon after.
Bogeys at 12 and 14 had Thompson in trouble but he, like Barbieri, rallied superbly.
The 21-year-old picked up his first stroke of the day with birdie at 18 and made three more on the way back to the clubhouse to sign for a gutsy 1-under 71.
“Im stoked, it’s good to have a comeback,” Thompson said.
“I feel like the ‘old’ Jack would have been a bit more rattled and definitely made a few more bogeys.
“I was really happy to fight back strong.”
Hear from Jack Thompson, Nathan Barbieri & Karl Vilips
Karl Vilips also started slowly with three bogeys in his opening six holes, before three birdies in the next seven somewhat righted the ship.
But a closing bogey at the par-4 9th meant the West Australian carded a 1-over 73 that at worst keeps him in the hunt.
“I struck the ball fine the whole day, bit of a shaky start hitting the ball right off the tee,” Vilips said.
“I just didn’t convert as many as I would have liked to for birdie.”
Victorian Kyle Michel was cruising at 2-under through 10 holes without a bogey to his name after making the turn.
But dropped shots at 11, 12. 15 and dragged the 23-year-old back to 3-over for the day.
World No.4 David Micheluzzi had a day he’d like to forget, the Melburnian carding two birdies against two bogeys and a disastrous triple-bogey.
The second highest-ranked player in the field isn’t done with just yet, but a seven on the par-4 15th took him to a Thursday 75.
Watch Blake Windred's full press conference