Date: November 15, 2019
Author: Mark Hayes

Hilliard breezes through golf exam

Pressure can often spike performance, but it was a non-golf kind that lifted Alex Hilliard to the halfway lead of the Port Phillip Open Amateur today.

Hilliard ripped around her home club Commonwealth this morning, seemingly in a hurry and using only 70 shots to do so.

It was only then she revealed that she had to race to nearby Caulfield racecourse to sit an afternoon exam for her university course.

Her three-under-par round – a seven-shot improvement on her opening 77 – left Hilliard a two-stroke leader at one over in total.

Her nearest rival, New Zealander Fiona Xu, went even better in the turnaround stakes, converting an opening 80 into a second-round 69 today to scythe through the field.

She's one clear of Victorian Steph Bunque, who eagled the long second today to set up her even-par 73 that left her at four over and alone in third.

Overnight leaders Julienne Soo and Abbie Teasdale faded with a pair of 79s, leaving them in a share of eighth and now one behind one Youth Olympic champion Grace Kim, who found better form today with a 73 to sit in a share of sixth at seven over alongside Kono Matsumoto.

On the men's side, it was left to Bellarine ace Ben Henkel to stave off a South Australian charge to the top of the leaderboard.

Henkel, from Curlewis, but a familiar face on the Sandbelt in playing pennant for Metropolitan, only carded a 76 on a tough day for scoring for the men.

But it was good enough to assume the lead at two over in total after many at the top after round one fell away badly, including leader Louis Dobbelaar, of Queensland, who doubled the third en route to a flat 82 and a share of 11th at 10 over.

Royal Adelaide's Billy Cawthorne (76) shares second at four over with South Australian state teammate Liam Georgiadis (77), who also has his Grange clubmate Ben Tucker (73) fourth at five over.

Former AFL champion Brendon Goddard was disappointed to have missed the cut after rounds of 88-83, but said he had enjoyed his first national rankings event.

Both tournaments shift to Kingston Heath tomorrow for the final 36 holes.