Date: April 29, 2016
Author: Tom Fee, GolfWA

WA steam firing at WA Open

South Australian Antonio Murdaca holds the overnight lead at the Nexus Risk TSA Group WA Open, but it is the performance of the amateurs that is dominating conversation around WA Golf Club.

The WA State team will be out in force this weekend thanks to all members of the team making the cut. Haydn Barron and Curtis Luck lead the way in a tie for second place on 9-under and just one shot behind Murdaca — while Ben Ferguson also features in the top 10 on 6-under.

Kiran Day (-2), Fred Lee (Par), Min Woo Lee, Nick Curnow and Cameron Jones (+2) made it a clean sweep for the WA men’s side – joined by 15 year old Cooper Geddes (+2) from the boys’ team to add icing to the cake.

But the youth movement doesn’t stop with the West Aussies. NSW amateur Travis Smyth is well in contention sitting two back and in a tie for fourth, and Anthony Quayle of Queensland is also in the top ten on 6-under. Coming off a string of four straight wins in amateur events in the leadup to the WA Open, Harrison Endycott of NSW cannot be ignored on 5-under.

Even some of the professionals have youth on their side, led by the 20 year old Murdaca and 21 year old Jarryd Felton who both turned pro at last year’s Fiji International in October.

One of the highlights of today’s play came from 17 year old Ben Ferguson, who shot a 6-under 64 in the tough afternoon conditions. Ferguson said he was delighted to see his teammates performing so strongly with a big month of golf ahead.

“It’s good that all the boys are showing up before the Interstate Series,” said Ferguson.

“Hopefully they just keep doing well. It will be good talk to them all on facebook tonight — hopefully I’ll get paired with one of my mates tomorrow and have another fun round.”

Ferguson’s positioning in the top 10 is even more impressive considering he had a nightmare start to both of his rounds, sitting 3-over through six holes after round 1 and bogeying the opening hole today.

“I thought I was in for a battle this week,” said Ferguson.

“I was 3-over through six, and I wasn’t holing much or hitting it well, but I holed a few more putts to get back to square which I was happy with. Then today I teed off 10 and hit a pretty ugly shot and bogeyed the hole, and thought I’d be in a scramble to make the cut, but again I just started playing really well.”

“I think I hit five shots inside four foot so it was pretty straight forward birdies there. The rest of them were 4 to 6 feet so my irons were really dialled in today.”

As the WA Open runner-up in 2015, Curtis Luck is no stranger to his T2 position at the half-way mark, but it’s all a new experience for WA Golf Club’s Haydn Barron. Barron dealt the pressure of being an overnight leader admirably, firing a second round 67 and coming home strongly with a 32 on his closing nine.

“It was almost a relief to get that out of the way,” said Barron.

“I said to my caddy that we could get going now and I managed to turn in even par which was good.”

“It’s definitely easier than if I was playing at another course. There has been a lot of members following me and supporting me which I thrive off. Coming up the last yesterday I felt like I was playing 9 holes after work, it was pretty chilled.”

Curtis Luck left a lot of great birdie chances on course in the opening round, but he pounced in his second round 64 with 27 putts for the day.

“I holed a couple more putts today which made the big difference,” said Luck.

“My ball striking probably wasn’t as good as yesterday but I still managed to hit it close enough to have a few birdies.”

Luck will join his state teammate Haydn Barron in the lead group with Murdaca for tomorrow’s round. After enjoying two days with good friend and former WA teammate Jarryd Felton, Luck said he’s excited about going toe to toe with Barron.

“I would love to play with Baz, it would be awesome. We will see what the draw has in store for me tonight.”

“It’s exciting, I can’t wait to get out there on the weekend and give it another go.”