D'Altera retains lead at Vic Open
Von Nida Tour | 2009 Victorian Open | Round Two | 30 Jan 2009
Victorian Heath D’Altera shot a five under 66 today, to match his first round score and take a one shot lead into the weekend at the 2009 Subaru Victorian Open.
The overnight leader with Andre Stolz and fellow Victorian James McLean, D’Altera overcame a nervous start after bogeying the first hole, to move to ten under at the Australasian Tour season opening event. He sits atop the leaderboard in sole first place, one shot ahead of Victorian’s Craig Spence and Ashley Hall.
Fellow Victorians Scott Laycock (68), David McKenzie (68), Cameron Percy (68) along with Queenslander Chris Downes (67) are in a tie for fourth place, three shots back on six under, with overnight co-leader James McLean (71) a further shot back.
The local duo of Heath Reed (68) and Ryan Haywood (68) are on four under with New South Welshmen Paul Sheehan (70) and Aaron Townsend (68) whilst overnight co-leader Andre Stolz is T13 on three under after a second round two over 73.
Despite an early bogey, it was D’Altera, the 2008 Victorian Order of Merit winner who picked up from where he left off yesterday and handled the oppressive conditions at the Spring Valley course well.
“I got off to a pretty shaky start down the first, but I backed it up with two birdies and then later in the round I did the same thing, so I was really pleased with that. It was more about not getting down on myself and soldiering on and making more birdies.”
Whilst he battled the heat late yesterday, he made the most of slightly cooler thirty plus temperatures this morning before conditions escalated to a top of 44 degrees.
“I just tried to keep cool yesterday so I was glad to be playing this morning in cooler weather,” said the Geelong based golfer.
He heads into the weekend with a talented duo hot on his heels. Both Hall and Spence have claimed victories before with 25 year old Hall the winner of the 2007 NAB Victorian PGA Championship on the Von Nida Tour and 35 year old Spence the 1999 Ericsson Masters Champion on the Australasian Tour and former member of the USPGA Tour.
Hall and Spence both shot rounds of seven under to move up the leaderboard to hold a share of second place but a bogey on the final hole robbed Hall of sharing the lead.
“It would have been better to finish on seven under but I went well, said Hall.
“I had a solidish front nine, I hit every green in reg and hit every par five in two, but I just two putted. I actually had 19 putts on the front nine for one under so it was a case of what might have been. I started hitting it closer on the back nine and had 10 putts so the bogey at the end was a pity.”
Since winning the 2007 Victorian PGA Hall has struggled with form but a solid season ending run last year on the Australasian Tour has seen a resurgence in his game. He had a tie for 11th finish at the Sportsbet Masters, followed by T24 placing’s at the Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Open.
“I’ve always thought I’ve putted fairly decent but my ball striking and control has got a lot better. I am hitting more fairways and I am alot more consistent,” said Hall. “I feel like I always struggled with that even when I was an amateur, my consistency and strike, just getting it closer to the hole …so I am giving myself a lot more opportunities now and taking advantage of it.”
For Spence, who won the Keysborough Pro-Am last week, it was a solid round including four birdies on the front nine before picking up two more on the way home.
“Today I hit the ball well, I kept it where I wanted to keep it all day, said Spence. “I had some chances for even a few more, so it was good, I played pretty solid.”
Spence has good memories of Spring Valley having played Australasian Qualifying School years ago at the course as well as countless amateur events. Whilst it has been a good decade since he has played here, he found the course much to his liking, despite the once again oppressive weather conditions.
“It’s such a good layout. It has 11 or 12 really top quality golf holes on it, maybe more. It’s one of the best courses in Melbourne,” he enthused.
61 players have made the cut which finished at two over with James McMillan from Royal Melbourne the leading amateur on one under.
Whilst he missed the cut, amateur Kris Mueck followed up his first round 84 with a stunning 7 under 64, giving the Heathcote based golfer the honour of a new course record in the process.
Play resumes tomorrow morning at 9:50am with the leading group of D’Altera, Spence and Hall taking to the course at 11:40am.
Source – PGA Tour