Date: April 28, 2016
Author: Tom Fee

Amateurs laughing at WA Open

Five amateurs sit in the top ten including one tied for the lead after the opening round of the Nexus Risk TSA Group WA Open at WA Golf Club.

Using his local knowledge to advantage, WA Golf Club member Haydn Barron fired an impressive 6-under 64 in the blustery afternoon conditions — tying Jarryd Felton’s morning effort and earning a share of first place.

Nick Gillespie of New Zealand and Antonio Murdaca of South Australia sit on 5-under in a tie for third while Michael Foster, David Wilson, Benjamin Clementson, Gavin Reed and NSW amateur Travis Smyth are all on 4-under par.

Of the eight players tied for 10th on 3-under, three are amateurs in WA’s Curtis Luck, Cameron Davis of NSW and Anthony Quayle of Queensland.

Barron’s round was capped off with a sublime approach from 50m in heavy rough to set up a tap in birdie, and charge home with a back nine of 31.

“I got off to a good start after I holed a nice putt on the second for birdie,” said Barron.

“I was bogey free today so it was pretty solid; it was very difficult out there in the weather.”

And it was on the greens where Barron made use of his home course advantage, at least according to his playing partner Jordan Zunic.

“Jordan actually said that’s why I kept holing all the putts because I know the greens!” said Barron.

“It’s my home track. It was a good day out there with the guys we had a lot of fun and I am happy to be paired with those two.”

Playing his home course, Barron drew he biggest galleries of the day in the worst of the weather, adding an element of expectation that Barron enjoys.

“A couple of the office ladies got into me yesterday and said if I didn’t play well they were going to tell me off so obviously there is a bit of extra motivation there,” said Barron.

“A lot of the club members came out to support me which I really appreciated.”

While the amateur Barron is tied with the professional Jarryd Felton, there are many similarities with the pair. Both are aged 21 and came up through WA’s amateur circuit, and Barron is looking forward to some banter with his friend and co-leader.

“Felts is up there at the top as well, so he might fire some shots tomorrow or even tonight over Facebook,” said Barron.

“I am excited, I am in a good position going into the next few days. Knowing the course so well is obviously going to be a huge benefit and if I can keep my ball striking up I should be right.”

But if the two will be pared together this weekend, they’ll need to perform just as well tomorrow on opposite sides of the draw.

Felton expertly endured the wind that picked up halfway through his round, and he’ll need to bring a similar game to the second round with winds up to 30km/h predicted tomorrow afternoon.

“I got off to a really good start. The wind started to pick up halfway around but I managed to keep it together which was really nice,” said Felton.

“I have played here a lot over the years and it does get very windy, which is normal. I am more used to it than perhaps some of the other guys out there.”

“I had a bogey on the 7th which shows the premium on hitting fairways here. I missed the fairway and I was pretty dead so I did well to make bogey there and then played pretty solid into the clubhouse.”

Since making the jump to the professional ranks late last year, Felton has already tasted success at the winner of the 2015 NSW PGA Championship.

2016 has been a different story with only three cuts made from six starts, but after a month away from tournaments to work on his game the early signs are that Felton is getting back to his peak.

“You feel a little bit of pressure playing at home, but I am putting just as much pressure on myself. You just want to go out and do the best that you can and hopefully it’s good enough,” said Felton.

“I had the lull after the New Zealand Open and Queensland PGA so I saw my coach Ritchie Smith. I felt like my game came along really nicely, it’s not a surprise but it’s just good to be able to shoot that score.”

“It’s definitely early in the tournament but it was nice to get a good run out there and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”