Three way tie at Victorian Open
Von Nida Tour | 2009 Victorian Open | Round One | 29 Jan 2009
Three players are in a tie for the lead at the end of day one of the Subaru Victorian Open at the Spring Valley Golf Club.
Victorians James McLean and Heath D’Altera joined early leader Andre Stolz at the top of the leaderboard late in the day after shooting opening rounds of five under 66 in blistering heat.
Stolz set the early pace after teeing off at 7:43am alongside Peter Senior and local amateur Luke Bleumink and no one looked close to catching him until McLean and D’Altera headed out in the afternoon.
Despite a slow start which included two bogeys in his first four holes, 30 year old Geelong based McLean came back with two birdies and an eagle and was two under at the turn.
" I felt pretty good, I didn’t do anything that special but I made the most of the par 5’s and the birdies then the eagle at seven certainly got me back on track", said McLean who received a late tournament invite to the event.
He came home with a wet sail including two late birdies to finish on five under and join Stolz atop of the leaderboard. McLean’s story is a similar one to Stolz’s well documented story, where injury has plagued him for much of the past five years. After winning the 1998 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship aged 19 he went on to claim his US PGA TOUR card in 2003, but like Stolz a wrist injury all but stalled his career and five years on he has relocated back to Melbourne and is looking to resurrect his game at home.
“I haven’t played a lot although I did play in the Australian Open and Asian Tour School and missed by just one shot, so I feel like my game is at a point where I really want to play and I’m fit and ready to go,” he said.
D’Altera finished after McLean and was delighted with his form.
“It’s the best I’ve hit the ball in a long time. I was trying to avoid the heat and keep cool and just hoped I would play well,” said the 26 year old also from Geelong.
“I generally play well here (at Spring Valley) so I was really looking forward to playing here.”
“I just hope I can keep playing the way I’m playing. I haven’t been playing well lately at all, so I’m just looking to get a bit of confidence going into the next round.”
Stolz whose wrist is still an area of concern played through momentary flashes of pain and to set the pace earlier and didn’t let conditions rattle him.
“I got steadier and steadier as the day went on,” said Stolz who looked surprisingly fresh considering the windy, oppressive conditions.
“I putted great today, although I missed a lot of birdie putts on the way home, but I hit well off the tee and my iron play was strong and controlled so it was all good.”
Players battled stifling conditions in the 44 degree heat with hot winds blowing across the course, even resulting in live scoring being suspended for the health and safety of the walking scorers. Much of the same is expected for tomorrow’s second round.
The trio hold a two shot lead from a quality chasing pack of ten including Queenlander’s Peter Senior & Scott Laycock, Victorians David McKenzie, Ashley Hall and Craig Spence, New South Welshmen Paul Sheehan and Graydon Woolridge and the New Zealand pair of Gareth Paddison & Mahal Pearce.
Defending Champion West Australian Kim Felton is on one under with the leading amateur, Ashley Umbers on one over.
Play resumes tomorrow with the first groups teeing off at 7:15am.
Source – PGA Tour