By lunch time on Thursday at the 2017 Oates Vic Open one thing was clear – 13th Beach’s Creek Course was the place to be.
The top eight men on the leaderboard all took to the Creek Course on the opening day, seven of those teeing it up in the morning’s friendly conditions.
Veteran David Bransdon sits alone on top of the standings after a sensational 8-under 64, two strokes clear of countrymen Brett Rankin and Deyen Lawson, along with Kiwi Michael Hendry.
Four Australians are holding down a share of fifth, former champions Matt Griffin and Richard Green joined by young guns Lucas Herbert and Taylor Macdonald at 5-under.
Bransdon battled to a top 20 finish at last week’s Victorian PGA Championship, that form continuing in Barwon Heads with a stunning start to the week.
“It’s always nice to start a tournament with that sort of number,” Bransdon said after signing his card.
“I putted well early… the putter was really hot, I didn’t hit it quite as close on the last few holes so I didn’t give myself as many looks at birdies.
Despite being two strokes clear at the close of play, Bransdon admitted he has plenty to do over the remaining 54 holes in order to reach a winning score.
“It’s hard to say, if the wind stays like this it’ll be -15 to -20,” said Bransdon.
“It’s all weather dependant, these golf courses.”
The 43-year-old rattled off six birdies prior to making the turn, before he picked up another stroke with a birdie at the par-5 10th.
As Laura Davies produced a similarly speedy start on the Creek Course’s other nine, Bransdon showed no signs of slowing down.
He climbed to 8-under with another birdie at the par-4 14th, threatening to break the Creek Course’s record of 63.
Four pars on the way home dashed those hopes, but helped put Bransdon in pole position heading into Friday’s second round.
But Bransdon wasn’t the only Victorian to catch fire on the Creek Course’s front side prior to lunch, with 2015 Oates Vic Open champion Green storming home to reach 5-under for the day.
Green teed off the 10th in the day’s marquee group, alongside fellow former winners Michael Long and Robert Allenby, before making amends for a slow start.
Green was at even-par through nine holes, before back-to-back birdies on the 1st and 2nd kickstarted his run.
“Once the putter started working on the other nine, the birdies started to flow so I played nicely around the second nine,” Green told reporters after his round.
“I hit it really well and set up so many opportunities and I almost got a bit frustrated around my first nine by not making anything.
“You can't make them all, you've just got to try and make your share and progress in a golf tournament, that's what it's all about.”
Green lives in a house that backs onto 13th Beach, the European Tour veteran in a comfortable position ahead of a likely 54 more holes on the Beach Course.
“I probably do more of my practice here on that course so I know a lot of the holes, especially on the front nine,” Green said.
“It sets up well for me, a lot of the holes that go towards the clubhouse and go out are quite difficult holes for right-handers with the wind off the left.
“So it's a little bit easier for me being a left-hander, so I’ve got to try and use that to my advantage tomorrow.”
Lawson was the afternoon wave’s clear standout with a strong 67 of his own, the only player of the top eight to tee it up on the traditionally more challenging Beach Course.
The Curlewis product is a local to the area and leant on that experience, carding a total of nine birdies late in the day.
“I’ve played here quite a bit so I obviously know it well,” Lawson said post-round.
“Just whatever the shot is, whether it’s windy or not windy, just go out and play it and go as low as you can.”
Headline act Robert Allenby ground his way to a 2-under 70 and a share of 36th on an up and down day, recording four birdies and two bogeys.