Date: February 02, 2008

Barnes blasts into lead

A pair of stunning eagles on the back nine has powerful New South Welshman Kurt Barnes in charge at the final turn of the Victorian PGA Championship at Sanctuary Lakes. Barnes began his dazzling display of muscle golf with a giant drive from the 15th tee that reached the green of the 315-metre hole. Barnes then drained the tricky two-metre for a two. Spectators watching the long-hitter later revealed Barnes&apos monster drive shaved the hole on its way passed. Four holes earlier he had thrilled the gallery by reaching a par five in two and one-putting for eagle. Rounds of 65, 71 and 67 have Barnes ahead of the field by one stroke at 13-under-par heading into Sunday. Locked in second is a group including Marc Leishman, 2004 Australian amateur champion Andrew Martin and Queenslander Wayne Perske. At 10-under par, but also well in the hunt for the prestigious title, are Victorian Rodney Booth and veteran Queenslander Terry Price. Barnes, 26, is the man to catch and if he can keep his distance driving on course will be hard to stop. The former Queensland PGA Champion put a new driver in the bag last week after successfully completing a series of test sessions at the driving range. “It feels really good off the clubface and with the 10 degrees of loft I get a really good flight on the ball,” he explained after his round on Saturday. “I just hope it keeps working as well tomorrow in the final round.” Bendigo boy Andrew Martin went bogey-free on a day where no-else did so. “My round was really solid, especially considering the wind was swirling around quite a bit,” said the 23-year-old seeking his first big win the professional ranks. “Most of my shots were pretty solid but whenever I missed a green my chipping came to the rescue.”