Date: February 01, 2019
Author: Martin Blake

McLeod fires in European debut

Jake McLeod began his life as a European Tour professional with a bang in Saudi Arabia last night.

McLeod, the 24-year-old Queenslander who won the order of merit in Australia last year, rolled home five consecutive birdies on the first five holes on his way to an opening five-under 65 in the Saudi International at Royal Greens Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

McLeod is tied-second, just two shots from the lead held by Thomas Pieters of Belgium.

The man from far north Queensland has had an explosive last 12 months including his first pro win, the New South Wales Open, and a third place in the Emirates Australian Open at The Lakes in November.

It was through his play at home that he earned full playing rights on the European Tour, and the Saudi International is his first start.

Another young Australian, Perth’s Min Woo Lee, began with a one-under par 69 including three straight birdies on the front nine to sit tied-46th in only his second start as a professional.

Meanwhile in Scottsdale, Arizona, Cameron Smith made a run of birdies late in the day to move into contention in the Phoenix Open.

Smith carded an opening 67 with five birdies and an opening bogey where he missed a putt from inside a metre.

The Queenslander is inside the top 10, just three shots back from the leaders, Americans Rickie Fowler, Harold Varner and Justin Thomas (64).