Date: August 17, 2018
Author: Olivia McMillan, PGA of Australia

Nisbet rips it up in Darwin

Queenslander Daniel Nisbet lit up the Palmerston Golf Course as he fired into early lead at the MMC Northern Territory PGA Championship.

Teeing off the 10th hole in the morning field; Nisbet cruised around the back nine in two under the card.

But it was his second nine where he really caught fire. Recording four consecutive birdies, the NZ Open champion was six under before adding a final birdie to his card at the ninth hole to sign for an opening round of 7-under 64.

“I was a bit aggressive out there and it paid off. I was hitting my driver really well so I am happy,” said Nisbet, who was bogey-free. 

Today’s performance came as somewhat of a surprise for Nisbet who has missed the cut in this tournament the past two years.

“I was saying in the lead-up that I have never played that well here and I have missed the cut. So it was nice to get the monkey off my back and shoot a low one. Hopefully, I can do it another three times,” Nisbet said.

“Looking back at the New Zealand Open, I hadn’t had the best results there before the win either so I think coming in with lower expectations, taking it as it comes and not putting too much pressure on myself is paying dividends.”

Playing in the afternoon field, 23-year-old Kade McBride pushed through potential sunstroke to shoot 65.

“I think the Darwin heat is getting to me, I hit a wall on the back nine, but I got some good advice to take hydralyte and that got me going again,” McBride said.

“I am happy with how I handled the back nine, it got pretty tough out there but I managed to salvage it pretty well and came home with a good score.”

South Australian Peter Cooke, who fired 66, had to forego a practice round when his golf clubs didn’t arrive until the eve of the tournament.

"My clubs didn’t arrive on my flight Tuesday night, but luckily they arrived last night. I didn’t get to do any practice so I was lucky that I managed to pull something out this morning,” Cooke said.

“I had done a lot of work before the tournament and have been playing nicely so I didn’t really have a reason to worry too much.”

Joining Cooke, tied third on the leaderboard, is Damien Jordan who enjoyed a good day with the flat stick.

“That’s the best start that I have had for a while so I am hoping to keep this putter hot,” Jordan said.

“I sunk a lot of good putts out there, a couple that I wasn’t expecting, so I just need to keep that momentum going.”

Jordan, who served two tours of Iraq with the Australian Army, was quick to thank the 25 American Marines who are volunteering at the tournament this week while deployed in Darwin for Exercise Pitch Black, an international air force exercise held in the Top End every two years.

“It was cool to see a few of the Marines around the course. I spent a bit of time with them in Iraq, they are good lads,” Jordan said.

“It’s great that they and all the volunteers are able to come and help with the tournament, so thanks to everyone involved.”

Also opening with 66s were Michael Sim (WA), Adam Burdett (VIC), Brad Moules (SA) and Campbell Rawson (NZ).

Defending champion Travis Smyth had an interesting day, finding just three fairways. But the rookie pro managed to shoot a 67 which featured a lone bogey.

“I wanted to get off to a good start like last year and I think four under has met that expectation,” Smyth said.

“I wasn’t that far off but I only hit three fairways. The trees really overhang on this course so I was playing a lot of punch, low fade and low draw shots.

“I was very happy with how I scrambled because it could have been a lot of bogeys out here but I only made one.”

Joining Smyth on four under the card and rounding out the top 10 are Tim Stewart (NSW), Jack Wilson (VIC), Maverick Antcliff (QLD), Jake Higginbottom (NSW), Braden Becker (WA) and Scott Arnold (NSW).