He’s playing in his first #AusOpenGolf and even gun Victorian amateur David Micheluzzi wasn’t immune to some first tee nerves on Thursday at The Lakes.
But 18 holes and just 68 swings later, the 22-year-old from Cranbourne is just one stroke back of outright leader Ben An and putting serious pressure on the pros around him.
Teeing it up at The Lakes for just the third time in his life, Micheluzzi put on a clinic in the afternoon’s brutal weather conditions – a feat PGA Tour stars Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley and more couldn't match – rattling home late birdies on 16 and 17 to climb to 4-under after one day’s play.
Playing in his fourth pro event in as many weeks, the World No. 14 amateur is starting to feel at home among the game’s big names.
“I’m not ‘over’ it. I’ve still got the nerves,” said Micheluzzi.
“But I’ve just got to play golf and let the results take care of themselves.
“The Fiji International was probably a good starting point with all the cameras. Asian Amateur was the same kind of deal and I got used to that.
“Now, this kind of feels normal – as much as it isn’t. I feel like I belong now.”
After driving the par-4 6th green Micheluzzi had to settle for a par to remain at 1-under, before another three-putt at the par-5 11th threatened to slow his momentum.
But he bounced back with a birdie at 12 to climb to 3-under, before handing that shot back at the par-5 14th after an aggressive play at the green in two came up short.
“I hit a really good drive on 11 and a really good second shot, I’ve just never putted up two tiers before,” Micheluzzi laughed.
“Then the putter caught fire. I think the 18th was my first missed iron shot, where I missed it short but it was in the perfect spot.”
Considering the howling winds and lashing rain, hitting 11 fairways and finding 14 greens in regulation was a phenomenal effort from a fearless golfer playing with little to lose.
But Micheluzzi won’t be sucked in to dreaming about winning the Stonehaven Cup just yet, with The Lakes likely to ‘bite him’ over the next 54 holes.
“It probably will, I don’t know,” said Micheluzzi.
“I just need to play as good as I can and let the result take care of itself. If I miss the cut by 25 or if I make the cut, If I’m up there, it still doesn’t matter.
“I just need to hit each shot as good as I can.”