Date: February 06, 2016
Author: Golf Victoria

Level-headed Blyth takes reigns

Adam Blyth has taken the outright top position of the men’s Oates Vic Open tournament after the Queenslander finished 13-under-par this afternoon.

The 34-year-old enters the final day three strokes ahead of Matthew Millar (ACT), Michael Long (NZ) and Stephen Dartnall (WA) despite conceding his first double bogey of the week.

“It played really nicely, I ran away to a very nice start and made four birdies on the first six holes and then struggled a little and got caught on the seventh hole with a double,” said Blyth.

“But I’m still thankful I putted really well on the back nine today.”

Blyth, who returned to the PGA Tour of Australasia in 2014 after a two year break, emphasised the importance of “staying level” throughout the tournament to date.

 “I keep saying to myself whatever happens then happens; the birdies will come but so might the bogeys or double,” Blyth added.

“That took place today but hopefully I can cut that out tomorrow; I’m still happy that I stayed level and kept playing well.”

If successful, Blyth would be the first Queenslander to win the tournament since Kenny Druce’s 1999 men’s title at the Victoria Golf Club.

“It would be fantastic to win not only for the practice that’s been put in but also because it really does feel like a really big event with the crowds, the sponsors and what the two are able to put into the event.”

However Michael Long is also in a healthy position to become the first International to claim the tournament’s ultimate prize since fellow New Zealander Gareth Paddison’s 2004 feat.

Long captured a temporary lead when landing an eagle on his final hole to the pleasure of all those watching by the green and those tuned into the live stream.

“Those holes are not too easy particularly on the 17th because you’re hitting the par-3 with the wind on that tee shot and managing to get one reasonably close,” said Long.

“Then on the 18th I find that if you get your drive away it becomes a very gettable par-5 but to then make an eagle I was really happy because it was a very long putt.”

Long, who captured last year’s Cottesloe Open title, admitted he was happy to draw level with his long time opponent Matthew Millar.

“I don’t want to count how old I am but it is good to see guys like Matthew who supported the tour for a long time finally sort of break through and get on a bit of form.”

Millar’s opening round score sheet was very colourful with an eagle, a birdie, three bogeys and a double bogey featured on the first nine.

Nevertheless the reigning New Zealand PGA champion has since recovered with precision and has returned to the top four.

“I’m very happy to be there again, all the feelings are coming back again and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” said Millar.

“Today I held some putts but, having said that, I left a lot of putts short again in the middle of the hole.”

He continued, “I’m not saying that you should always make them but I’ve had the ball on line on the green all week so that’s encouraging.”

“If it’s not too windy anything is possible because the greens are excellent.”

Meanwhile Wodonga teenager Zach Murray is the outright leading amateur of the tournament and equal fifth overall after registering 9-under-par with Scott Strange (WA) and Aaron Price (NSW).

“I was very happy, I rolled in a few bombs early which resulted in birdies which got the day started and I played pretty solid on the back nine so it was a good game overall,” said Murray.

“My mindset is that there’s pretty much nothing left to lose tomorrow; I’ve got to go out there like I have been.”

Earlier in the morning, local Curlewis Golf Club member Deyen Lawson captured an impressive day score of 6-under-par.

And what was the local star’s humorous larrikins response to the press?

“Yep, I just wanted a bit of a sleep-in tomorrow,” joked Lawson.