New chum Brett Coletta has fought with veteran savvy to stay right in the hunt at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.
Playing just his second US PGA Tour event, the young Victorian looked in early trouble when he carded two waterlogged double-bogeys in three holes midway through his front nine.
But the 20-year-old stayed calm and made sufficient birdies to finish at even par, his 72 leaving him T35 after a first round that spread the field wildly at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village.
Only one Aussie is better placed than Coletta, with the increasingly consistent Marc Leishman signing for a 70 to sit T13, five behind joint leaders Jason Dufner and David Lingmerth.
Steve Bowditch and Rod Pampling are both even alongside Coletta, while fellow Queenslander Cameron Smith is two over and handy.
But the news wasn’t so great for the others in a deep Aussie contingent.
Matt Griffin and Greg Chalmers endured wild rides that both ended at three over, the same score as world No.3 Jason Day who almost played himself out of the event before two closing birdies.
Aaron Baddeley finished at four over alongside a clearly disappointed Adam Scott, while Curtis Luck couldn’t find momentum in his five-over 77.
And Ryan Ruffels uncharacteristically could not get off the bogey train with just one birdie in his nine-over 81.
But his fellow Victorian Coletta managed to avoid the potential pitfalls, despite finding water on the 14th and 16th holes having started on the 10th.
Coach Marty Joyce, having spoken to his charge after his round, said Coletta wasn’t fazed by the early errors.
“Brett was pretty happy with it overall. It’s a long day when you’re last off, so he did really well on his (second) nine to keep it all going in the right direction,” Joyce said.
“He was really pleased to have hit so many fairways and greens and when he didn’t, like on the eighth, he played some great recovery shots to keep the round going.
“And he also did what you need to do, especially if you’ve dropped a couple of shots early, in that he made all the par-fives count (with birdies), so to finish square on that course is a good effort.
“I’m sure he’ll look to build on that tomorrow when he’s out early.”
The momentum-savers came with spectacular sand blasts, firstly on the long par-three third, when his second shot finished within 15cm of the cup, then arguably even better on the par-three eighth hole when he left himself a 35m carry and knocked it effectively into gimme range.
“They’re pretty impressive shots, I reckon,” Joyce said.
“When you see some of those scores, they’re the shots that stand out.”