Date: February 06, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Birdie blitz rewrites record books

The most perfect summer day dawned on 13th Beach – and it was rewarded with golf of historic standard.

No fewer than three Beach Course tournament record 64s were fired this morning as the men cashed in on benign conditions to set the Oates Victorian Open leaderboard alight.

New South Welshman Aaron Townsend was first in with his eight-under-par round vaulting him to nine under overall.

His good friend and travelling companion Matt Millar soon matched the 64s that Richard Green and Michael Choi fired in 2013 to get to eight under.

But both were soon supplanted atop the board by Perth’s Jason Scrivener, whose only bogey-free masterpiece gave him the outright lead at 10 under par.

However, far from a three-horse race, the birdie bonanza spread far and wide with Australian Masters champion Nick Cullen and Callan O’Reilly each firing 66s to leap up to eight under.

No fewer than 14 players were six under or better as the afternoon field took flight.

Newly minted European Tour player Scrivener said he was playing “without pressure” with a full tournament schedule ahead of him this year – and good form under his belt from tournaments in South Africa.

“I hit a lot of greens – it was pretty stress-free, really,” said Scrivener, who denied any extra pressure his new lofty status might provide.

“It’s definitely nice to come back and play in Australia … there’s no pressure on me at all.

“I only missed a couple of greens today and it felt fairly easy for once, which was nice.”

Millar, from Canberra, said he didn’t make many mistakes either, missing just one fairway and only then by a few metres.

“I made a few putts, but I probably left a few out there as well – maybe the 11th and 12th I left good chances short in the centre and a couple on the front nine, as well. I just had the ball under control and that’s a nice feeling.”

Millar, who played in the 2011 British Open, had a “bit of a shock” when he had to return to the PGA Tour’s Q-school in January for the first time in 12 years, but has been playing well since finishing fourth there to keep his playing rights.

“I played really well that week and in a way it mightn’t have been a bad thing … just change a few things about the way I went about playing … so I feel pretty comfortable at the moment.”

Townsend said he “got hot with the putter” early in his round and it barely stopped from there.

He had one three-putt bogey in his 64, yet still managed to use his blade 26 times for the round.

“I wasn’t hitting (my approaches) very close, but had a good feel for the speed of the greens and the read as well. It’s not often you have days like that when you can see them … it was a nice day in that respect,” said Townsend, whose playing partners Brett Coletta (-3) and Anthony Brown (–7) each fired 68 to be a combined 16 under for the round.

“The longest putt was about 5m, but I probably had about four or five of those. The guys got sick of them going in, I think,” he joked. “But I certainly wasn’t sick of it.”

Townsend, a dual winner on the PGA Tour of Australasia, said he was happy to be back on a course he enjoyed and hopefully recover his past winning ways.

“I don’t feel like I’m hitting the ball that great. I’m hitting it good off the tee, but it’s just a bit average into the green. I managed to scramble it around yesterday (for a 71) … so when these days come and you make a few putts, it makes you feel good again.”