A blemish-free round of 9-under 63 in round one of the AVJennings NSW Open has handed Josh Younger a one-stroke lead at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club.
Following the outstanding early efforts of Min Woo Lee and Justin Warren for rounds of 8-under the card, Younger put the leaderboard to the back of his mind when he took to the course on Thursday afternoon.
A string of birdies from his first hole, the 10th, to the 16th gave the Victorian momentum across what he labels as the layout’s hardest stretch.
“I started off on the back-nine and made six straight and then just tried to keep out of my own way from there on in. People won’t believe me but the back-nine was tough,” Younger said.
“We came through the turn and the wind got up and that front-nine played quite difficult. I had a good start and was able to stay patient and let things happen. I picked up a couple more coming in and saved a couple of pars.”
It wasn’t an easy road to the clubhouse for Younger, who says while birdies are important; his par saves today were just as valuable.
“On seven I got out of position. I had a bit of a rough lie there. Eight, I hit a bad tee shot but made a good putt and then on nine, I just played it as a three-shotter and made a good two-putt there,” he said.
“I was just able to put it in play. The wind was up and probably the strongest I’ve seen it here in a couple of years. The way the weather was it’s quite easy to drop a few if you get out of position.”
Playing in the morning field Warren has made a late surge to lead alongside West Australian young-gun Lee at the halfway mark of the opening round.
A rising star of the golfing world, Lee put his talent on display with an eagle, seven birdies and a lone bogey at Twin Creeks before the pair eventually tied for second ahead of round two.
“I just played pretty solid. It was stress-free. I made one bogey but made a lot of birdies. There are a lot of birdie chances out there and I rolled the putter great so with the combination of both it was really good,” Lee said.
RIGHT: Min Woo Lee shares second place after an 8-under opening round at Twin Creeks. PHOTOS: Luke Walker/Getty Images(right); Golf NSW (top).
“I hit good shots when I needed to. Some of the holes are tricky and I just hit an iron off the tee and I know at this course there are a lot of birdies out there so I just kept it going.
“Every round you can get lucky and unlucky. There were a few holes where I got lucky and I just took my medicine on some of them and kept it going.”
A number of players made a late run down the back-nine of the Twin Creeks layout but it was New South Welshman Warren who entered the clubhouse on par with Lee.
A bogey at the challenging 18th reduced Warren’s scorecard from 9-under to 8-under, but the solid opening round score has the 24-year-old sitting pretty ahead of the second round.
“I didn’t get myself into too much trouble and drove it well and hit a lot of greens. I had eight birdies and two bogeys out there so I holed some really nice putts and a nice putt for eagle on 15,” Warren said.
“You’ve only got to look at the scores from the past few years to know that there’s certainly some low numbers out there.
“We had pretty benign conditions this morning so the front-nine was certainly gettable. It was just good to shoot 8-under.”
A stacked field of talent sits behind the leading trio including Travis Smyth, Dimi Papadatos and amateur Nathan Barbieri all tied for fourth at 7-under.
A hole-in-one from Andrew Martin with a 9-iron in hand at the par-3 2nd hole further highlighted the opening round at the NSW Open.