Experienced Darren Beck continued his positive return to tournament golf with an opening 65 to gain the early lead at the Isuzu Queensland Open.
Beck, 39, who campaigned in Asia for eight years, is back on the tournament trail after playing limited golf during 2014 and 2015.
“I played in Asia for seven or eight years and then had two years off because of family reasons,’’ he said.
It’s a hard grind coming back but I’d like to get some money together and get back to playing in Asia some time.’’
Beck’s round at The Brisbane Golf Club included four successive birdies from the 12th hole which included a 45ft putt on the par-3, 13th hole.
“I pulled my 6-iron to the left fringe of the green and rolled in the putt … that was a good stretch of holes,’’ he said.
“I missed the cut here last year and didn’t really know how to play the course. I hit a few drivers in the wrong place but learned from that.’’
“Today I hit a lot of 2-irons from the tee and gave myself wedges to the green. I’ve been hitting the wedges really well.’’
Beck, who is based at Cronulla, has already qualified for a start at the Australian Open and Australian PGA later this year.
“I want to play well in the big ones coming up,’’ he said.
Beck led by a stroke from rookie Queensland pro Kade McBride who spent time as an Uber driver earlier this year while recovering from wrist surgery.
“I was recovering for six months after surgery and got bored so I took up driving for Uber for a while,’’ he said.
McBride’s future in golf was in jeopardy when underwent the surgery on his right wrist.
“I was told I might not play again and that was quite confronting,’’ he said.
“Fortunately the surgery was successful and everything is fine now.’’
A former top amateur, McBride’s decision to turn professional was put on hold for almost a year because of injury and illness.
“I joined as an affiliate member of the PGA and played my first event last week at the West Australian Open,’’ he said.
“My aim was to make the cut to get a monkey off my back and I managed to do that.’’
McBride, 22, finished 30th at Royal Perth and set the platform for a strong showing this week with his 66 today.
He carded six birdies and a solitary bogey on the 10th hole.
“I was running a lot of putts over the edges on the first six holes and then made birdies on seven and eight,’’ he said.
“The greens are unbelievable. They are so true you only need to hit your putt on line and it will go in.’’
Sharing third place on 67 are Harry Bateman (NZ), Peter Cooke (SA) and New South Welshmen Steve Jones and Ben Clementson.
Elvis Smylie, the 15-year old son of former tennis ace Liz Smylie, finished with a two-over 73. The willowy left-hander showed plenty of character to come back after being five-over the card at one stage of his round.
Defending champion Brett Coletta withdrew from the Open this morning after losing his bid to overcome a virus which resulted in him being hospitalised on Tuesday.
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