Three Queenslanders take a first round advantage at the Tailor-made Building Services NT PGA Championship.
Kade McBride, Tim Hart and Brett Rankin all finished with a 6-under 65 at a blustery Palmerstone golf course.
McBride, 24, put on a masterclass in the morning field and catapulted into championship contention with three birdies from the first four holes.
A bogey on the 16th was his only blemish for the day. McBride said he was pleased to withstand the wild conditions that traumatised much of the field.
“I just go out there with a job to do. You’ve got to go out there and deviate from your plan,” McBride said.
“There will be times where you’ll have to adjust to errand shots, but I’m confident I can adapt to most situations.
“The wind’s very swirly. When we teed off on the 10th hole, we were playing directly into the wind. When we finished on the 18th, the wind was pushing across the 10th.
“Coming in here, I’ve got a really nice run. I’m feeling fresh. It’s a nice round to build up on.”
Hart’s first up effort puts him in a strong position to secure an elusive maiden ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia title.
He said he was satisfied with his short game, nailing crucial putts on the hard-to-read greens.
“I controlled my game well in the conditions and holed a few putts when I needed to,” Hart said.
“It’s been breezy all day. I’m not sure if it will hold up the remainder of play, but I think the score (6-under) will be pretty close to the top of the leaderboard.”
Rankin secured an 18th hole birdie to join his fellow statesman atop the leaderboard. A couple of back nine bogeys – one on the 14th and another on the trouble-making 16th – threatened to derail his strong start.
“It was good to get off to a good start. I have been playing well in the Pro-Ams recently. I wasn’t anything special. I just kept it simple.
“I have been coming up here for 10 years now and I think the organisers have done a great job with the course. It’s the best it’s ever looked.”
Local favourite Aaron Pike is tied for fourth at 5-under 66. It’s a start he’s confident he can build on.
“I didn’t do much wrong today. There were a few errand shots, but I stuck to it. I wouldn’t say it was an exciting game to watch.
“I was happy to keep the ball in play. You’ve got to really hit good shots off the tee. In these conditions, it’s important to set yourself up.”
The afternoon field has taken to the Palmerston Golf Course where players will aim to better Rankin, Hart and McBride’s scores.
Round 2 resumes at 7:30am tomorrow morning. In addition to the winner’s share of the $150,000 prize purse, the champion will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and be fully exempt onto the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of the 2020 season.