Chris Gray leads day one of Victorian Open
BY iseekgolf.com | Von Nida Tour | 2004 Victorian Open | Round One | 23 Jan 2004
Western Australian professional Chris Gray leads the field after the first round of the 2004 Mitsubishi Motors Victorian Open played at the Woodlands Golf Club today.
Gray fired a superb six-under-par round of 66 to lead by two strokes from Victorian professionals Cameron Percy and David Diaz who each returned four-under 68.
A further stroke away are Ballarat professional Tony Collier, Queensland’s Ryan Haller and New South Welshman Paul Sheehan who each fired 69. Of the other notable competitors among the 158 player field, 2001 Vic Open winner Scott Laycock survived a shaky start to return a one-under-par 71, two-time Japan Tour winner Brendan Jones also returned a 71, 1992 Champion Ian Stanley a 76 while pre-tournament favourite Chris Downes had a disappointing 77.
In fine, sunny conditions with a moderate southerly breeze blowing across the course, Gray took advantage of a morning tee-time with an outward nine of two-under 34 highlighted by birdies on the par three 5th and par four 7th. He then lit up with three consecutive birdies on the par four 12th, 13th and 14th before adding a further birdie on the par five 18th for a bogey free 66.
A professional since 1990 and a winner of the 2000 South Australian PGA, Gray had his best season on the Australasian PGA Tour back in 1994 when he finished eleventh including a second in the Canon Challenge. After struggling for form in recent years, Gray will be looking for continued good play in the remainder of the 54-hole event.
Best amateur score of the day was returned from Victorian Colts Team member David Walker with a two-under-par round of 70. Youngest player in the field, fifteen-year-old Victorian Junior Team member Tim Dugdale started brightly with a one-under front nine of 35, but faltered slowly with an inward nine of 40 including a double-bogey 7 at the par-five 18th.
While twenty-five players returned scores of par or better, the majority came in the morning. Scores were a little higher during the afternoon thanks to a stiffening southerly breeze. Best score in the later half of the day came from twenty-seven year-old Sheehan with a three-under 69. After finishing 20th on the Japan Tour in 2003 and with a morning tee-time for the second round, Sheehan will be looking to take advantage of the fine and calm early Saturday conditions to post a clubhouse lead.
Shot of the day went to local professional Stuart Leong who aced the 168-metre par three 5th hole using a six-iron. Alas for the twenty-eight year-old all he earned was a handshake and the honour on the 6th tee. The same feat on the 197 metre 8th would have delivered a brand new Mitsubishi car or a Club Car golf cart for the perfect shot on the 154-metre 17th hole.
Hole-in-one’s have played a role in previous Vic Opens at Woodlands, most notably in 1991 when Victorian professional Trevor McDonald holed-in-one twice in the one round.
With fine weather forecast for tomorrow’s second round, low scoring is certain as the field battles to be amongst the 50 players plus ties to qualify for the final round on Sunday.
Source – VGA